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HARVARD 
COLLEGE 
LIBRARY 




LOOKING BACKWARD 



2000-1887 



EDWARD BELLAMY 

Author of " Mist Luding ton's Sister" i " Dr. ITtidennofs Procns" 

" A Nantucket Jdyl t H de. t dc. 



TinRTT -FIFTH THOUSAND. 



BOSTON AND NEW YORK : 
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND CTOMl'ANY. 
€U tfitorrrfifte prr«, Cambnttyr. 

1889. 



Soc?50.5 






,-^an <:o ( ^ 





«. » 



• i * J 



'.•!• 



Copyright, 1888 
By Ticknor and Company 



All rights reserved 



J 



V 



.K 




PREFACE. 



Historical Skxion Siiawmut Colligi, Bostom, 
Dbckmbkr 28, aooo. 



Living as we do in the closing year of the 
twentieth century, enjoying the blessings of a 
social order at once so simple and logical that 
it seems but the triumph of common sense, it 
is, no doubt, difficult for those whose studies 
have not been largely historical to realize that 
the present organization of society is, in its 
completeness, less than a century old. No 
historical fact is, however, better established 
than that till nearly the end of the nineteenth 
century it was the general belief that the 
ancient industrial system, with all its shock- 
ing social consequences, was destined to last, 
with possibly a little patching, to the end of 



IV PREFACE. 

time. How strange and wellnigh incredible 
does it seem that so prodigious a moral and 
material transformation as has taken place 
since then could have been accomplished in 
so brief an interval ! The readiness with 
which men accustom themselves, as matters of 
course, to improvements in their condition, 
which, when anticipated, seemed to leave 
nothing more to be desired, could not be more 
strikingly illustrated. What reflection could 
be better calculated to moderate the enthusiasm 
of reformers who count for their reward on 
the lively gratitude of future ages ! 

The object of this volume is to assist persons 
who, while desiring to gain a more definite 
idea of the social contrasts between the nine- 
teenth and twentieth centuries, are daunted by 
the formal aspect of the histories which treat 
the subject. Warned by a teacher's experience 
that learning is accounted a weariness to the 
flesh, the author has sought to alleviate the 
instructive quality of the book by casting it in 




PRE FACE. ▼ 

the form of a romantic narrative, which he 
would be glad to fancy not wholly devoid of 
interest on its own account. 

The reader, to whom modern social institu 
tions and their underlying principles are mat 
tcrs of course, may at times find Dr. Leete's 
explanations of them rather trite, — but it must 
be remembered that to Dr. Leete's guest they 
were not matters of course, and that this book 
is written for the express purpose of inducing 
the reader to forget for the nonce that they arc 
so to him. One word more. The almost 
universal theme of the writers and orators who 
have celebrated this bi-millenial epoch has 
been the future rather than the past, not the 
advance that has been made, but the progress 
that shall be made, ever onward and upward, 
till the race shall achieve its ineffable destiny. 
This is well, wholly well,' but it seems to me 
that nowhere can we find more solid ground 
for daring anticipations of human development 
during the next one thousand years, than by 



Tl PREFACE. 

* Looking Backward " upon the progress of the 
last one hundred. 

That this volume may be so fortunate as to 
find readers whose interest in the subject shall 
incline them to overlook the deficiencies of the 
treatment, is the hope in which the author 
steps aside and leaves Mr. Julian West to 
speak for himself. 





i 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 



CHAPTER I. 

T FIRST saw the light in the city of Boston 
■*• in the year 1857. "What I r you say, 
"eighteen fifty-seven? That is an odd slip. 
He means nineteen fifty-seven, of course." I 
beg pardon, but there is no mistake. It was 
about four in the afternoon of December the 
26th, one day after Christmas, in the year 
1857, not 1957, that I first breathed the east 
wind of Boston, which, I assure the reader, 
was at that remote period marked by the same 
penetrating quality characterizing it in the 
present year of grace, 2000. 

These statements seem so absurd on their 
face, especially when I add that I am a young 



8 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

man apparently of about thirty years of age, that 
no person can be blamed for refusing to read 
another word of what promises to be a mere 
imposition upon his credulity. Nevertheless I 
earnestly assure the reader that no imposition 
is intended, and will undertake, if he shall 
follow me a few pages, to entirely convince him 
of this. If I may, then, provisionally assume, 
with the pledge of justifying the assumption, 
that I know better than the reader when I was 
born, I will go on with my narrative. As every 
schoolboy knows, in the latter part of the 
nineteenth century the civilization of to-day, 
or anything like it, did not exist, although the 
elements which were to develop it were already 
in ferment. Nothing had, however, occurred 
to modify the immemorial division of society 
into the four class es, or nations, as they may 
be more fitly called, since the differences 
between them were far greater than those be- 
tween any nations nowadays, of the rich and 
the poor, the educated and the ignorant. I 




LOOKING BACKWARD. $ 

myself was rich and also educated, and pos- 
sessed, therefore, all the elements of happiness 
enjoyed by the most fortunate in that age. 
Living in luxury, and occupied only with the 
pursuit of the pleasures and refinements of 
life, I deri ved the mean s of my support from 
the labor of others, rendering no sort of scr- 
vice in return. My parents and grand-parents 
had lived in the same way, and I expected 
that my descendants, if I had any, would 
enjoy a like easy existence. 

But how could I live without service to the 
world? you ask. Why should the world have 
supported in utter idleness one who was able 
to render service? The answer is that my 
great-grandfather had accumulated a sum of 
money on which his descendants had ever since 
lived. The sum, you will naturally infer, must 
have been very large not to have been ex- 
hausted in supporting three generations in idle- 
ness. This, however, was not the fact. The 
/mm had been originally by no means large. 



IO LOOKING BACKWARD 

It was, in fact, much larger now that three gen- 
erations had been supported upon it in idle- 
ness, than it was at first. This mystery of use 
without consumption, of warmth without com- 
bustion, seems like magic, but was merely an 
ingenious application of the art now happily 
lost but carried to great perfection by your 
ancestors, of shifting the burden of one's sup- 
port on the shoulders of others. The man 
who had accomplished this, and it was the 
end all sought, was said to live on the income 
of his investments. To explain at this point 
how the ancient methods of industry made 
this possible, would delay us too much. 
I shall only stop now to say that interest on 
investments was a species of tax in perpetuity 
upor the product of those engaged in industry 
which a person possessing or inheriting money 
was able to levy. It must not be supposed 
that an arrangement which seems so unnatural 
and preposterous according to modern notions 
was never criticized by your ancestors. It 







LOOKING BACKWARD. IX 

had been the effort of lawgivers and prophets 
from the earliest ages to abolish interest, or at 
least to limit it to the smallest possible rate. 
All these efforts had, however, failed, as they 
necessarily must so long as the ancient 
social organization prevailed. At the time Jtf 
of which I write, the latter part of the nine- ^ 
teenth century, governments had generally -^ 
given up trying to regulate the subject at all. 

By way of attempting to give the reader 
some general impression of the way people 
lived together in those days, an ^ especially of * 
the relations of the rich and poor to one another, 
perhaps I cannot do better than to compare 
society as it then was to a prodigious coach 
which the masses of humanity were harnessed 
to and dragged toilsomely along a very hilly 
and sandy road. The driver was hunger, and 
permitted no lagging, though the pace was 
necessarily very slow. Despite the difficulty 
of drawing the coach at all along so hard a 
road, the top was covered with passengers 






fc 



13 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

who never got down, even at the steepest 
ascents. These seats on top were very breezy 
and comfortable. Well up out of the dust, 
their occupants could enjoy the scenery at 
their leisure, or critically discuss the merits of 
the straining team. Naturally such places 
were in great demand and the competition for 
them was keen, every one seeking as the first 
end in life to secure a seat on the coach for him- 
self and to leave it to his child after him. By 
the rule of the coach a man could leave bis 
seat to whom he wished, but on the other 
hand there were many accidents by which it 
might at any time be wholly lost. For all 
that they were so easy, the seats were very 
insecure, and at every sudden jolt of the coach 
persons were slipping out of them and falling 
to the ground, where they were instantly com- 
pelled to take hold of the rope and help to 
drag the coach on which they had before 
ridden so pleasantly. It was naturally re- 
garded as a terrible misfortune to lose one's 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 13 

seat, and the apprehension that this might 
happen to them or their friends was a con- 
stant cloud upon the happiness of those who 
rode. 

But did they think only of themselves ? you 
ask. Was not their very luxury rendered 
intolerable to them by comparison with the lot 
of their brothers and sisters in the harness, and 
the knowledge that their own weight added to 
their toil? Had they no compassion for fellow 
beings from whom fortune only distinguished 
them? Oh, yes ; commiseration was frequently 
expressed by those who rode for those who 
had to pull the coach, especially when the 
vehicle came to a bad place in the road, as 
it was constantly doing, or to a particularly 
steep hill. At such times, the desperate strain- 
ing of the team, their agonized leaping and 
plunging under the pitiless lashing of hun- 
ger, the many who fainted at the rope and 
were trampled in the mire, made a very dis- 
tressing spectacle, which often called forth 



74 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

highly creditable displays of feeling on the top 
of the coach. At such times the passengers 
would call down encouragingly to the toilers 
of the rope, exhorting them to patience, and 
holding out hopes of possible compensation in 
another world for the hardness of their lot, 
while others contributed to buy salves and 
liniments for the crippled and injured. It was 
agreed that it was a great pity that the coach 
should be so hard to pull, and there was a 
sense of general relief when the specially bad 
piece of road was gotten over. This relief was 
not, indeed, wholly on account of the team, for 
there was always some danger at these bad 
places of a general overturn in which all 
would lose their seats. 

It must in truth be admitted that the main 
effect of the spectacle of the misery of the toil- 
ers at the rope was to enhance the passengers' 
sense of the value of their seats upon the coach, 
and to cause them to hold on to them more 
desperately than before. If the passengers 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 15 

could only have felt assured that neither they 
nor their friends would ever fall from the top, 
it is probable that, beyond contributing to the 
funds for liniments and bandages, the}" would 
have troubled themselves extremely little about 

those who dragg ed the c oach. 

• « — — — ~__ ^— — — • -~ ■■""" ~""^^""~™"^- 

I am well aware that this will appear to the 
men and women of the twentieth century an 
incredible inhumanity, but there are two facts, 
both very curious, which partly explain it. In 
the first place, it was firmly and sincerely be- 
lieved that there was no other way in which 
Society could get along, except the many 
pulled at the rope and the few rode, and not 
only this, but that no very radical improvement 
even was possible, either in the harness, the 
coach, the roadway, or the distribution of 
the toil. It had always been as it was, and it 
always would be so. It was a pity, but it 
could not be helped, and philosophy forbade 
wasting compassion on what was beyond 
remedy. 



l6 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

The other fact is 3 r et more curious, consist- 
ing in a singular hallucination which those 
on the top of the coach generally shared, that 
they were not exactly like their brothers and 
sisters who pulled at the rope, but of finer clay, 
in some way belonging to a higher order of 
beings who might justly expect to be drawn. 
This seems unaccountable, but, as I once rode 
on this very coach and shared that very hallu- 
cination, I ought to be believed. The strang- 
est thing about the hallucination was that those 
who had but just climbed up from the ground, 
before they had outgrown the marks of the rope 
upon their hands, began to fall under its influ- 
ence. As for those whose parents and grand- 
parents before them had been so fortunate as 
to keep their seats on the top, the convic- 
tion they cherished of the essential difference 
between their sort of humanity and the com- 
mon article, was absolute. The effect of such 
a delusion in moderating fellow feeling for the 
{offerings of the mass of men into a distant and 




LOOKING BACKWARD. If 

philosophical compassion, is obvious. To it I 
refer as the only extenuation I can offer for the 
indifference which, at the period I write of, 
marked my own attitude toward the misery of 
my brothers. 

In 1887 I came to my thirtieth year. Al- 
though still unmarried, I was engaged to wed 
Edith Bartlett. She, like myself, rode on the 
top of the coach. That is to say, not to en- 
cumber ourselves further with an illustration 
which has, I hope, served its purpose of giv- 
ing the reader some general impression of how 
we lived then, her family was wealthy. In 
that age, when money alone commanded all 
that was agreeable and refined in life, it was 
enough for a woman to be rich to have suitors ; 
but Edith Bartlett was beautiful and graceful 
also. 

My lady readers, I am aware, will protest 
at this. * Handsome she might have been," I 
hear them saying, "but graceful never, in the 
costumes which were the fashion at that period, 



l8 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

when the head covering was a dizzy structure 
a foot tall, and the almost incredible extension 
of the skirt behind by means of artificial con- 
trivances, more thoroughly dehumanized the 
form than any former device of dressmakers. 
Fancy any one graceful in such a costume ! * 
The point is certainly well taken, and I can 
only reply that while the ladies of the twen- 
tieth century are lovely demonstrations of the 
effect of appropriate drapery in accenting 
feminine graces, my recollection of their great 
grandmothers, enables me to maintain that no 
deformity of costume can wholly disguise 
them. 

Our marriage only waited on the comple- 
tion of the house which I was building for 
our occupancy in one of the most desirable 
parts of the city, that is to say, a part chiefly 
inhabited by the rich. For it must be un- 
derstood that the comparative desirability of 
different parts of Boston for residence depend- 
ed then, not on natural features but on the 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 1 9 

character of the neighboring population. Each 
class or nation lived by itself, in quarters of 
its own. A rich man living among the poor, 
an educated man among the uneducated, was 
like one living in isolation among a jealous 
and alien race. When the house had been 
begun, its completion by the winter of 1886 
had been expected. The spring of the follow- 
ing year found it, however, yet incomplete, and 
my marriage still a thing of the future. The 
cause of a delay calculated to be particularly 
exasperating to an ardent lover, was a series 
o f strikes, that is to say, concerted refusals to 
work on the part of the brick-layers, masons, 
carpenters, painters, plumbers, and other trades 
concerned in house building. What the spe- 
cific causes of these strikes were I do not 
remember. Strikes had become so com- 
mon at that period that people had ceased 
to inquire into their particular grounds. In 
one department of industry or another, they 
had been nearly incessant ever since the great 



20 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

business crisis of 1873. In fact it had come to 
be the exceptional thing to see any class of 
laborers pursue their avocation steadily for 
more than a few months at a time. 

The reader who observes the dates alluded 
to will of course recognize in these disturbances 
of industry the first and incoherent phase of 
the great movement which ended in the es- 
tablishment of the modern industrial system 
with all its social consequences. This is all 
so plain in the retrospect that a child can 
understand it, but not being prophets, we of 
that day had no clear idea what was happen- 
ing to us. What we did see was that indus- 
trially the country was in a very queer way. 
The relation between the workingman and 
the employer, between labor and capital, ap- 
peared in some unaccountable manner to 
have become dislocated. The working classes 
had quite suddenly and very generally be- 
come infected with a profound discontent with 
their condition, and an idea that it could' be 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 21 

greatly bettered if they only knew how to go 
about it. On every side, with one accord, 
they preferred demands for higher pay, shorter 
hours, better dwellings, better educational 
advantages, and a share in the refinements 
and luxuries of life, demands which it was 
impossible to see the way to granting unless 
the world were to become a great deal 
richer than it then was. Though they knew 
something of what they wanted, they knew 
nothing of how to accomplish it, and the eager 
enthusiasm with which they thronged about 
any one who seemed likely to give them any 
light on the subject lent sudden reputation 
to many would-be leaders, some of whom had 
little enough light to give. However chi- 
merical the aspirations of the laboring classes 
might be deemed, the devotion with which 
they supported one another in the strikes, 
which were their chief weapon, and the sac- 
rifices which they underwent to carry them out 
| eft no doubt of their dead earnestness. 



\ 



22 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

As to the final outcome of the labor troubles, 
which was the phrase by which the movement 
I have described was most commonly referred 
to, the opinions of the people of my class 
differed according to individual temperament. 
The sanguine argued very forcibly that it was 
in the very nature of things impossible tlut 
the new hopes of the workingmcn could be 
satisfied, simply because the world had not the 
wherewithal to satisfy them. It was only 
because the masses worked very hard and 
lived on short commons that the race did 
not starve outright, and no considerable im- 
provement in their condition was possible 
while the world, as a whole, remained so poor. 
It was not the capitalists whom the laboring 
men were contending with, these maintained, 
but the iron-bound environment of humanity, 
and it was merely a question of the thickness 
of their skulls when they would discover the 
fact and make up their minds to endup* 
what they could not cure. 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 23 

The less sanguine admitted all this. Of 
course the workingmen's aspirations were im- 
possible of fulfilment for natural reasons, but 
there were grounds to fear that they would not 
discover this fact until they had made a sad 
mess of society. They had the votes and 
the power to do so if they pleased, and their 
leaders meant they should. Some of these 
desponding observers went so far as to predict 
an impending social cataclysm. Humanity, 
they argued, having climbed to the top round of 
the ladder of civilization, was about to take a 
header into chaos, after which it would doubtless 
pick itself up, turn round, and begin to climb 
again. Repeated experiences of this sort in 
historic and prehistoric times possibly ac- 
counted for the puzzling bumps on the human 
cranium. Human history, like all great move- 
ments, was cyclical, and returned to the point 
of beginning. The idea of indefinite progress 
in a right line was a chimera of the imagina 
lion, with no analogue in nature. The para 



is 



24 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

bola of a comet was perhaps a yet better illus- 
tration of the career of humanity. Tending 
upward and sunward from the aphelion of 
.barbarism, the race attained the perihelion of 
civilization only to plunge downward once 
more to its nether goal in the regions of 
chaos. 

This, of course, was an extreme opinion, 
but I remember serious men among my ac- 
quaintances who, in discussing the signs of 
the times, adopted a very similar tone. It was 
no doubt the common opinion of thoughtful 
men that society was approaching a critical 
period which might result in great changes. 
The labor troubles, their causes, course, and 
cure, took lead of all other topics in the public 
prints, and in serious conversation. 

The nervous tension of the public mind could 
not have been more strikingly illustrated than 
it was by the alarm resulting from the talk of 
a small band of men who called themselves 
anarchists, and proposed to terrify the. Ameri- 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 25 

can people into adopting their ideas by threats 
of violence, as if a mighty nation which had 
but just put down a rebellion of half its own 
numbers, in order to maintain its political sys- 
tem, were likely to adopt a new social system 
out of fear. 

As one of the wealthy, with a large stake 
in the existing order of things, I naturally 
shared the apprehensions of my class. The 
particular grievance I had against the working 
classes at the time of which I write, on account 
of the effect of their strikes in postponing my 
wedded bliss, no doubt lent a special animosity 
to my feeling toward them. 



*6 LOOKING BACKWARD 



CHAPTER n. 

npHE thirtieth day of May, 1887, fell on a 
■*" Monday. It was one of the annual 
holidays of the nation in the latter third of the 
nineteenth century, being set apart under the 
name of Decoration Day, for doing honor to 
the memory of the soldiers of the north who 
took part in the war for the preservation of the 
union of the States. The survivors of the 
war, escorted by military and civic processions 
and bands of music, were wont on this occa- 
sion to visit the cemeteries and lay wreaths of 
flowers upon the graves of their dead comrades, 
the ceremony being a very solemn and touch- 
ing one. The eldest brother of Edith Bartlett 
had fallen in the war, and on Decoration Day 
the family was in the habit of making a visit 
to Mount Auburn, where he lay. 

I had asked permission to make one of the 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 2J 

party, and, on our return to the city at night- 
fall, remained to dine with the family of my 
betrothed. In the drawing-room, after dinner, 
I. picked up an evening paper and read of a 
fresh strike in the building trades, which would 
probably still further delay the completion of 
my unlucky house. I remember distinctly 
how exasperated I was at this, and the objur- 
gations, as forcible as the presence of the ladies 
permitted, which I lavished upon workmen in 
general, and these strikers in particular. I 
had abundant sympathy from those about me, 
and the remarks made in the desultory conver- 
sation which followed, upon the unprincipled 
conduct of the labor agitators, were calculated 
to make those gentlemen's ears tingle. It was 
agtecd that affairs were going from bad to 
worse very fast, and that there was no tell- 
ing what we should come to soon. "The 
worst of it, w I remember Mrs. Bartlett's say- 
ing, "is that the working classes all over the 
world seem to be going crazy at once. In 



28 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

Europe it is far worse even than here. Pm 
sure I should not dare to live there at all. I 
asked Mr. Bartlett the other day where we 
should emigrate to if all the terrible things 
took place which those socialists threaten. He 
said he did not know any place now where 
society could be called stable except Green- 
land, Patagonia, and the Chinese Empire." 
w Those Chinamen knew what they were about," 
somebody added, " when they refused to let in 
our western civilization. They knew what it 
would lead to better than we did. They saw 
it was nothing but dynamite in disguise." 

After this, I remember drawing Edith apart 
and trying to persuade her that it would be 
better to be married at once without waiting 
for the completion of the house, spending the 
time in travel till our home was ready for us. 
She was remarkably handsome that evening, 
the mourning costume that she wore in recog- 
nition of the day, setting off to great advan- 
tage the purity of her complexion. I can see 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 29 

her even now with my mind's eye just as she 
looked that night. When I took my leave 
she followed me into the hall and I kissed her 
good-bye as usual. There was no circum- 
stance out of the common to distinguish this 
parting from previous occasions when we had 
bade each other good-bye for a night or a day. 
There was absolutely no premonition in my 
mind, or I am sure in hers, that this was more 
than an ordinary separation. 

All, well ! 

The hour at which I had left my betrothed 
was a rather early one for a lover, but the 
fact was no reflection on my devotion. I was 
a confirmed sufferer from insomnia, and al- 
though otherwise perfectly well had been 
completely fagged out that day, from having 
slept scarcely at all the two previous nights. 
Edith knew this and had insisted on sending 
me home by nine o'clock, with strict orders 
to go to bed at once. 

The house in which I lived had been 00 



JO LOOKING BACKWARD. 

cupied by three generations of the family of 
which I was the only living representative 
in the direct line. It was a large, ancient 
wooden mansion, very elegant in an old- 
fashioned way within, but situated in a quar- 
ter that had long since become undesirable 
for residence, from its invasion by tenement 
houses and manufactories. It was not a house 
to which I could think of bringing a bride, 
much less so dainty a one as Edith Bartlett. 
I had advertised it for sale and meanwhile 
merely used it for sleeping purposes, dining 
at my club. One servant, a faithful colored 
man by the name of Sawyer, lived with me 
and attended to my few wants. One feature of 
the house I expected to miss greatly when I 
should leave it, and this was the sleeping 
chamber which I had built under the founda- 
tions. I could not have slept in the city 
at all, with its never ceasing nightly noises, 
if I had been obliged to use an upstairs cham- 
ber. But to this subterranean room no mur* 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 31 

mur from the upper world ever penetrated. 
When I had entered it and closed the door, 
I was surrounded by the silence of the tomb. 
In order to prevent the dampness of the 
subsoil from penetrating the chamber, the 
walls had been laid in hydraulic cement and 
were very thick, and the floor was likewise 
protected. In order that the room might serve 
also as a vault equally proof against violence 
and flames, for the storage of valuables, I 
had roofed it with stone slabs hermetically 
sealed, and the outer door was of iron with a 
thick coating of asbestos. A small pipe, com- 
municating with a wind-mill on the top of the 
house, insured the renewal of air. 

It might seem that the tenant of such a 
chamber ought to be able to command slum- 
ber, but it was rare that I slept well, even 
there, two nights in succession. So accustomed 
was I to wakefulness that I minded little the 
loss of one night's rest. A second night, how- 
ever, spent in my reading chair instead of my 



32 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

bed, tired me out, and I never allowed my- 
self to go longer than that without slumber, 
from fear of nervous disorder. From this 
statement it will be inferred that I had at my 
command some artificial means for inducing 
sleep in the last resort, and so in fact I had. 
If after two sleepless nights I found myself on 
the approach of the third without sensations 
of drowsiness, I called in Dr. Pillsbury. 

He was a doctor by courtesy only, what 
was called in those days an " irregular " or 
"quack" doctor. He called himself a w Pro- 
fessor of Animal Magnetism." I had come 
across him in the course of some amateur 
investigations into the phenomena of animal 
magnetism. I don't think he knew anything 
about medicine, but he was certainly a re- 
markable mesmerist. It was for the purpose 
of being put to sleep by his manipulations that 
I used to send for him when I found a third 
night of sleeplessness impending. Let my 
nervous excitement or mental preoccupation 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 33 

be however great, Dr. Pillsbury never failed, 
after a short time, to leave me in a deep slum- 
ber, which continued till I was aroused by a 
reversal of the mesmerizing process. The 
process for awaking the sleeper was much sim- 
pler than that for putting him to sleep, and for 
convenience I had made Dr. Pillsbury teach 
Sawyer how to do it. 

My faithful servant alone knew for what 
purpose Dr. Pillsbury visited me, or that he 
did so at all. Of course, when Edith became 
my wife i should have to tell her my secrets. 
I had not hitherto told her this, because there 
was unquestionably a slight risk in the mes- 
meric sleep, and I knew she would set her 
face against my practice. The risk, of course, 
was that it might become too profound 
and pass into a trance beyond the mesmer- 
izer's power to break, ending in death. Re- 
peated experiments had fully convinced me 
that the risk was next to nothing if rea- 
sonable precautions were exercised, and of 



34 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

this I hoped, though doubtingly, to convince 
Edith. I went directly home after leaving hei 
and at once sent Sawyer to fetch Dr. Pillsbury. 
Meanwhile I sought ray subterranean sleeping 
chamber, and exchanging my costume for a 
comfortable dressing-gown, sat down to read 
the letters by the evening mail which Sawyer 
had laid on my reading table. 

One of them was from the builder of my 
new house, and confirmed what I had inferred 
from the newspaper item. The new strikes, 
he said, had postponed indefinitely the com- 
pletion of the contract, as neither masters nor 
workmen would concede the point at issue 
without a long struggle. Caligula wished 
that the Roman people had but one nock that 
he might cut it oft*, arid as I read this letter 1 
am afraid that for a moment I was capable of 
wishing the same thing concerning the labor- 
ing classes of America. The return of Saw- 
yer with the doctor interrupted my gloomy 
meditations. 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 35 

It appeared that he had with difficulty been 
able to secure his services, as he was prepar- 
ing to leave the city that very night. The 
doctor explained that since he had seen me 
last he had learned of a fine professional open- 
ing in a distant city, and decided to take 
prompt advantage of it. On my asking, in 
some panic, what I was to do for some one to 
put me to sleep, he gave me the names of 
several mesmerizcrs in Boston who, he averred, 
had quite as great powers as he. 

Somewhat relieved on this point, I instructed 
Sawyer to rouse me at nine o'clock next morn* 
ing, and, lying down on the bed in my dress- 
ing gown, assumed a comfortable attitude, and 
surrendered myself to the manipulations of the 
mesmerizer. Owing, perhaps, to my unusu 
ally nervous state, I was slower than common 
in losing consciousness, but at length a deli- 
cious drowsiness stole over me. 



36 LOOKING BACKWARD. 



CHAPTER III. 

w T TE is going to open his eyes. He had 
■*• ■*• better see but one of us at first." 

w Promise me, then, that you will not tell 
him." 

The first voice was a man's, the second a 
woman's, and both spoke in whispers. 

w I will see how he seems," replied the man. 

w No, no, promise me," persisted the other. 

w Let her have her way," whispered a third 
voice, also a woman. 

"Well, well, I promise, then," answered the 
man. w Quick, go I He is coming out of it." 

There was a rustle of garments and I opened 
my eyes. A fine looking man of perhaps sixty 
was bending over me, an expression of much 
benevolence mingled with great curiosity upon 
his features. He was an utter stranger. I 
raised myself on an elbow and looked around. 




mm 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 37 

The room was empty. I certainly had 
never been in it before, or one furnished like 
it. I looked back at my companion. He 
smiled. 

* How do you feel? n he inquired. 
"Where am I?" I demanded. 

* You are in my house," was the reply. 
"How came I here?" 

"We will talk about that when you are 
stronger. Meanwhile, I beg you will feel no 
anxiety. You are among friends and in good 
hands. How do you feel ? " 

W A bit queerly," I replied, "but I am well, 
I suppose. Will you tell me how I came to 
be indebted to your hospitality? What has 
happened to me? How came I here? It was 
in my own house that I went to sleep.* 

" There will be time enough for explanations 
later," my unknown host replied, with a reas- 
suring smile. " It will be better to avoid agi- 
tating talk until you arc a little more yourself. 
Will you oblige me by taking a couple of iwal- 



38 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

lows of this mixture? It will do you good. I 
am a physician." 

I repelled the glass with my hand and sat 
up on the couch, although with an effort, for 
my head was strangely light. 

w I insist upon knowing at once where I am 
and what you have been doing with me," I 
said. 

"My dear sir," responded my companion, 
M let me beg that you will not agitate yourself. 
I would rather you did not insist upon expla- 
nations so soon, but if you do, I will try to 
satisfy you, provided you will first take this 
draught, which will strengthen you somewhat." 

I thereupon drank what he offered me. 
Then he said, " It is not so simple a matter as 
you evidently suppose to tell you how you 
came here. You can tell me quite as much 
on that point as I can tell you. You have just 
been roused from a deep sleep, or, more pro- 
perly, trance. So much I can tell you. You 
say you were in your own house when you fell 




LOOKING BACKWARD, 39 

into that sleep. May I ask you when that 
was?" 

"When?" I replied, "when? Why, last 
evening, of course, at about ten o'clock 
I left my man Sawyer orders to call me 
at nine o'clock. What has become of Saw* 
yer?" 

w I can't precisely tell you that," replied my 
companion, regarding me with a curious ex- 
pression, "but I am sure that lie is excusable 
for not being here. And now can you tell me 
a little more explicitly when it was that you fell 
into that sleep, the date, I mean?" 

"Why, last night, of course ; I said so, didn't 
I? that is, unless I have overslept an entire 
day. Great heavens I that cannot be possible ; 
and yet I have an odd sensation of having 
slept a long time. It was Decoration Day that 
" went to sleep." 

w Decoration Day ? " 

"Yes, Monday, the 30th." 

" Pardon me, the 30th of what?* 



40 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

"Why, of this month, of course, unless I 
have slept into June, but that can't be." 

"This month is September." 

w September I You don't mean that I've 
slept since May ! God in heaven ! Why, it is 
incredible." 

w We shall see," replied my companion; 
* you say that it was May 30th when you went 
to sleep ? " 

"Yes." 

w May I ask of what year? " 

I stared blankly at him, incapable of speech, 
for some moments. 

"Of what year?" I feebly echoed at last. 

n Yes, of what year, if you please ? After 
you have told me tha* * onall be able to tell 
you how long you have slept." 

"It was the year 1887," I said. 

My companion insisted that I should take 
another draught from the glass, and felt my 
pulse. 

"My dear sir,* he said, "your manner indi- 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 41 

cates that you are a man of culture, which I 
am aware was by no means the matter of course 
in your day it now is. No doubt, then, you 
have yourself made the observation that noth- 
ing in this world can be truly said to be more 
wonderful than anything else. The causes of 
all phenomena arc equally adequate, and the 
results equally matters' of course. That you 
should be startled by what I shall tell you, is to 
be expected ; but I am confident that you will 
not permit it to affect your equanimity unduly. 
Your appearance is that of a young man of 
barely thirty, and your bodily condition seems 
not greatly different from that of one just roused 
from a somewhat too long and profound sleep, 
and yet this is the tenth day of September in 
the year 2000, and you have slept exactly one 
hundred and thi rteen years, three month s, and 
eleven days." 

Feeling partially dazed I drank a cup 
of some sort of broth at ray companion's 
suggestion, and, immediately afterward be. 



42 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

coming very drowsy, went off into a deep 
sleep. 

When I awoke it was broad daylight in the 
room, which had been lighted artificially when I 
was awake before. My mysterious host was sit- 
ting near. He was not looking at me when I 
opened my eyes, and I had a good opportunity 
to study him and meditate upon my extraordi- 
nary situation, before he observed that I was 
awake. My giddiness was all gone, and my 
mind perfectly clear. The story that I had 
been asleep one hundred and thirteen years, 
which, in my former weak and bewildered con- 
dition, 1 had accepted without question, re- 
curred to me now only to be rejected as a pre- 
posterous attempt at an imposture, the motive 
of which it was impossible remotely to surmise. 

Something extraordinary had certainly hap- 
pened to account for my waking up in this 
strange house with this unknown companion, 
but my fancy was utterly impotent to sug- 
gest more than the wildest guess as to what 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 43 

that something might have been. Could it 
be that I was the victim of some sort of con- 
spiracy? It looked so, certainly; and yet, if 
human lineaments ever gave true evidence, it 
was certain that this man by my side, with a 

face so refined and ingenuous, was no party to 
any scheme of crime or outrage. Then it 
occurred to me to question if I might not be the 
butt of some elaborate practical joke on the 
part of friends who had somehow learned the 
secret of my underground chamber and taken 
this means of impressing me with the peril of 
mesmeric experiments. There were great dif- 
ficulties in the way of this theory ; Sawyer 
would never have betrayed me, nor had I any 
friends at all likely to undertake such an enter- 
prise ; nevertheless the supposition that I was 
the victim of a practical joke seemed on the 
whole the only one tenable. Half expecting to 
catch a glimpse of some familiar face grinning 
(rom behind a chair or curtain, I looked care- 
fully about the room. When my eyes next 



44 LOOKING BACKWARD, 

rested on my companion, he was looking at 
me. 

" You have had a fine nap of twelve hours, 
he said briskly, " and I can see that it has done 
you good. You look much better. Your color 
is good and your eyes are bright. How do 
you feel ? " 

" I never felt better," I said, sitting up. 

M You remember your first waking, no doubt," 
he pursued, " and your surprise when I told 
you how long you had been asleep ? " 

"You said, I believe, that I had slept one 
hundred and thirteen years." 

" Exactly." 

"You will admit," 1 said, with an ironical 
smile, " that the story was rather an improbable 
one." " Extraordinary, I admit," he responded, 
"but given the proper conditions, not improba- 
ble nor inconsistent with what we know of the 
trance state. When complete, as in your case, 
the vital functions are absolutely suspended, 
and there is no waste of the tissues. No limit 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 45 

can be set to the possible duration of a trance 
when the external conditions protect the body 
from physical injury. This trance of yours 
is indeed the longest of which there is any 
positive record, but there is no known reason 
wherefore, had you not been discovered and 
had the chamber in which we found you con • 
tinued intact, you might not have remained in 
a state of suspended animation till, at the end 
of indefinite ages, the gradual refrigeration of 
the earth had destroyed the bodily tissues and 
set the spirit free." 

I had to admit that, if I were indeed the vic- 
tim of a practical joke, its authors had chosen 
an admirable agent for carrying out their im- 
position. The impressive and even eloquent 
manner of this man would have lent dignity to 
an argument that the moon was made of cheese. 
The smile with which I had regarded him as 
he advanced his trance hypothesis, did not 
appear to confuse him in the slightest degree. 

"Perhaps," I said, "you will go on and favor 



46 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

nc with some particulars as to the circum- 
stances under which you discovered this cham- 
ber of which you speak, and its contents. 1 
enjoy good fiction." 

"In this case," was the grave reply, "no 
fiction could be so strange as the truth. You 
must know that these many years I have been 
cherishing the idea of building a laboratory 
in the large garden beside this house for the 
purpose of chemical experiments for which I 
have a taste. Last Thursday the excavation 
for the cellar was at last begun. It was com- 
pleted by that night, and Friday the masons 
were to have come. Thursday night we had 
a tremendous deluge of rain, and Friday morn 
ing I found my cellar a frog-pond and the 
walls quite washed down. My daughter, who 
had come out to view the disaster with me, 
called my attention to a corner of masonry laid 
bare by the crumbling away of one of the walls. 
I cleared a little earth from it and, finding that 
it seemed part of a large mass, determined to 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 47 

investigate it. The workmen I sent for un- 
earthed an oblong vault some eight feet below 
the surface and set in the corner of what had 
evidently been the foundation walls of an an- 
cient house. A layer of ashes and charcoal 
on the top of the vault showed that the house 
above had perished by fire. The vault itself 
was perfectly intact, the cement being as good 
as when first applied. It had a door, but this 
we could not force and found entrance by re- 
moving one of the flagstones which formed the 
roof. The air which came up was stagnant, 
but pure, dry and not cold. Descending with 
a lantern, I found myself in an apartment fitted 
np as a bedroom in the style of the nineteenth 
century. On the bed lay a young man. That 
he was dead and must have been dead a cen- 
tury, was of course to be taken for granted ; 
but the extraordinary state of preservation of 
the body, struck me and the medical col- 
leagues whom I had summoned with amaze- 
ment. That the art of such embalming as this 



48 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

had ever been known we should not have be- 
lieved, yet here seemed conclusive testimony 
that our immediate ancestors had possessed it. 
My medical colleagues, whose curiosity was 
highly excited, were at once for undertaking 
experiments to test the nature of the process 
employed, but I withheld them. My motive 
in so doing, at least the only motive I now 
need speak of, was the recollection of some- 
thing I once had read about the extent to which 
your contemporaries had cultivated the subject 
of animal magnetism. It had occurred to me 
as just conceivable that you might be in a 
trance, and that the secret of your bodily in- 
tegrity after so long a time was not the craft 
of an embalmer, but life. So extremely fanci- 
ful did this idea seem, even to me, that I did 
not risk the ridicule of my fellow physicians 
by mentioning it, but gave some other reason 
for postponing their experiments. No sooner, 
however, had they left me, than I set on foot 
a systematic attempt at resuscitation, of which 
yon know the result." 



{ 



v 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 49 

Had its theme been yet more incredible, the 
circumstantiality of this narrative, as well as 
the impressive manner and personality of the 
narrator, might have staggered a listener, and 
I had begun to feel very strangely, when, 
as he closed, I chanced to catch a glimpse 
of my reflection in a mirror hanging on the 
wall of the room. I rose and went up to 
it. The face I saw was the face to a hair 
and a line and not a day older than the one 
I had looked at as I tied my cravat before 
going to Edith that Decoration Day, which, as 
this man would have me believe, was cele- 
brated one hundred and thirteen years before. 
At this, the colossal character of the fraud 
which was being attempted on me, came over 
roe afresh. Indignation mastered my mind 
as I realized the outrageous liberty that had 
been taken. 

"You are probably surprised," said my com- 
panion, " to sec that, although you are a cen- 
tury older than when you lay down to sleep in 



SO LOOKING BACKWARD. 

that underground chamber, your appearance ia 
unchanged. That should not amaze you. It is 
by virtue of the total arrest of the vital func- 
tions that you have survived this great period 
of time. If your body could have undergone 
any change during your trance, it would long 
ago have suffered dissolution." 

w Sir," I replied, turning to him, w what your 
motive can be in reciting to me with a serious 
face this remarkable farrago, I am utterly 
unable to guess ; but you are surely yourself 
too intelligent to suppose that anybody but 
an imbecile could be deceived by it. Spare 
me any more of this elaborate nonsense and 
once for all tell me whether you refuse to give 
me an intelligible account of where I am and 
how I came here. If so, I shall proceed to 
ascertain my whereabouts for myself, whoever 
may hinder." 

" You do not, then, believe that this is the 
year 2000?" 

" Do you really think it necessary to ask me 
that?" I returned. 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 5 1 

"Very well," replied my extraordinary host. 
* Since I cannot convince you, you shall con- 
rince yourself. Are you strong enough to fol- 
low me upstairs?" 

* I am as strong as I ever was/' I replied 

angrily, n as I may have to prove if this jest 

is carried much farther." 
n I beg, sir," was my companion's response, 

" that you will not allow yourself to be too fully 
persuaded that you are the victim of a trick, 
lest the reaction, when you are convinced of 
the truth of my statements, should be too 
great." 

The tone of concern, mingled with com- 
miseration, with which he said this, and the 
entire absence of any sign of resentment at my 
hot words, strangely daunted me, and I fol- 
lowed him from the room with an extraordinary 
mixture of emotions. lie led the way up two 
flights of stairs and then up a shorter one, 
which landed us upon a belvedere on the house- 
top. "Be pleased to look around you/* he said, 




52 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

as we reached the platform, "and tell me if 
this is the Boston of the nineteenth century.* 

At my feet lay a great city. Miles of broad 
streets, shaded by trees and lined with fine 
buildings, for the most part not in continuous 
blocks but set in larger or smaller enclosures, 
stretched in every direction. Every quarter 
contained iarge open squares filled with trees, 
among which statues glistened and fountains 
flashed in the late afternoon sun. Public build- 
ings of a colossal size and an architectural 
grandeur unparalleled in my day, raised their 
stately piles on every side. Surely I had never 
seen this city nor one comparable to it before. 
Raising my eyes at last towards the horizon, 
I looked westward. That blue ribbon wind- 
ing away to the sunset, was it not the sinu- 
ous Charles? I looked east; Boston harbor 
stretched before me within its headlands, not 
one of its green islets missing. 

I knew then that I had been told the truth 
concerning the prodigious thing which had 
befallen me. 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 53 



CHAPTER IV. 

T DID not faint, but the effort to realize my 
A position made me very giddy, and I re- 
member that my companion had to give me 
a strong arm as he conducted me from the 
roof to a roomy apartment on the upper floor 
of the house, where he insisted on my drink- 
ing a glass or two of good wine and partaking 
of a light repast. 

"I think you are going to be all right now," 
he said cheerily. W I should not have taken 
so abrupt a means to convince you of your 
position if your course, while perfectly excusa- 
ble under the circumstances, had not rather 
obliged me to do so. I confess," he added 
laughing, w I was a little apprehensive at one 
time that I should undergo what I believe you 
used to call a knockdown in the nineteenth 
century, if I did not act rather promptly* I 



54 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

remembered that the Bostonians of your day 
were famous pugilists, and thought best to lose 
no time. I take it you are now ready to acquit 
me of the charge of hoaxing you." 

"If you had told me," I replied, profoundly 
awed, " that a thousand years instead of a hun- 
dred had elapsed since I last looked on this 
city, I should now believe you." 

" Only a century has passed," he answered, 
"but many a millenium in the world's history 
has seen changes less extraordinary." 

"And now," he added, extending his hand 
with an air of irresistible cordiality, "let me 
give you a hearty welcome to the Boston of 
the twentieth century and to this house. My 
name is Leete, Dr. Leete they call me." 



" My name," Isaid as I shook his hand, " is 
Julian West." 

" I am most happy in making your acquaint- 
ance, Mr. West," he responded. " Seeing that 
this house is built on the site of your own, I 
hope you will find it easy to make yourself at 
home in it.* 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 55 

After my refreshment Dr. Leete offered me 
a bath and a change of clothing, of which I 
gladly availed myself. 

It did not appear that any very startling 
revolution in men's attire had been among the 
great changes my host had spoken of, for, bar- 
ring a few details, my new habiliments did 
not puzzle me at all. 

Physically, I was now myself again. But 
mentally, how was it with me, the reader will* 
doubtless wonder. What were my intellect- 
ual sensations, he may wish to know, on finding 
myself so suddenly dropped as it were into a 
new world. In reply let me ask him to 
suppose himself suddenly, in the twinkling of 
an eye, transported from earth, say, to Paradise 
or Hades. What docs he fancy would be his 
own experience? Would his thoughts return 
it once to the earth he had just left, or would 
he, after the first shock, wellnigh forget his 
former life for a while, albeit to be remem- 
bered later, in the interest excited by his new 



$6 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

surroundings? All I can say is, that if his 
experience were at all like mine in the transi- 
tion I am describing, the latter hypothesis 
would prove the correct one. The impressions 
of amazement and curiosity which my new 
surroundings produced occupied my mind, 
after the first shock, to the exclusion of all 
other thoughts. For the time the memory of 
my former life was, as it were, in abeyance. 

No sooner did I find myself physically re- 
habilitated through the kind offices of my host, 
than I became eager to return to the housetop ; 
and presently we were comfortably established 
there in easy chairs, with the city beneath and 
around us. After Dr. Leete had responded to 
numerous questions on my part, as to the an- 
cient landmarks I missed and the new ones 
which had replaced them, he asked me what 
point of the contrast between the new and the 
old city struck me. most forcibly. 

w To speak of small things before great," I 
responded, *I really think that the complete 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 57 

absence of chimneys and their smoke is the 

detail that first impressed me." 

" Ah ! " ejaculated my companion with an 
air of much interest, "I had forgotten the 

chimneys, it is so long since they went out 

of use. It is nearly a century since the crude 

method of combustion on which you depended 

for heat became obsolete. n 

"In general," I said, "what impresses me 
most about the city, is the material prosperity 
on the part of the people which its magnifi- 
cence implies." 

"I would give a great deal for just one 
glimpse of the Boston of your day," replied Dr. 
Leete. w No doubt, as you imply, the cities of 
that period were rather shabby affairs. If you 
had the taste to make them splendid, which I 
would not be so rude as to question, the gen- 
eral poverty resulting from your extraordinary 
industrial system would not have given you 
•he means. Moreover, the excessive individ- 
ualism which then prevailed was inconsistent 



$8 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

with much public spirit. What little wealth ycu 
had seems almost wholly to have been lavished 
in private luxury. Nowadays, on the contrary, 
there is no destination of the surplus wealth 
so popular as the adornment of the city, which 
all enjoy in equal degree." 

The sun had been setting as we returned to 
the housetop, and as we talked night descended 
upon the city. 

"It is growing dark," said Dr. Leete. "Let 
us descend into the house ; I want to introduce 
my wife and daughter to you." 

His words recalled to me the feminine 
voices which I had heard whispering about 
me as I was coming back to conscious life; 
and, most curious to learn what the ladies of 
the year 2000 were like, I assented with alac- 
rity to the proposition. The apartment in 
which we found the wife and daughter of my 
host, as well as the entire interior of the house, 
was filled with a mellow light, which I knew 
must be artificial, although I could not dis- 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 59 

cover the source from which it was diffused. 
Mrs. Lecte was an exceptionally fine looking 
and well preserved woman of about her hus- 
band's age, while the daughter, who was in 
the first blush of womanhood, was the most 
beautiful girl I had ever seen. Her face was 
as bewitching as deep blue eyes, delicately 
tinted complexion and perfect features could 
make it, but even had her countenance lacked 
special charms, the faultless luxuriance of her 
figure would have given her place as a 
beauty among the women of the nineteenth 
century. Feminine softness and delicacy were 
in this lovely creature deliciously combined 
with an appearance of health and abounding 
physical vitality too often lacking in the 
maidens with whom alone I could compare 
her. It was a coincidence trifling in com- 
parison with the general strangeness of the 
situation, but still striking, that her name 
should be Edith. 
The evening that followed was certainly 



60 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

unique in the history of social intercourse, but 
to suppose that our conversation was peculiarly 
strained or difficult, would be a great mistake. 
I believe indeed that it is under what may be 

called unnatural, in the sense of extraordinary, 

t 

\ circumstances that people behave most natur- 
ally, for the reason no doubt that such circum- 
stances banish artificiality. I know at any 
rate that my intercourse that evening with these 
representatives of another age and world was 
marked by an ingenuous sincerity and frank- 
ness such as but rarely crown long acquain- 
tance. No doubt the exquisite tact of my 
entertainers had much to do with this. Of 
course there was nothing we could talk of but 
the strange experience by virtue of which 
I was there, but they talked of it with an 
interest so naive and direct in its expression 
as to relieve the subject to a great degree of 
the element of the weird and the uncanny 
which might so easily have been overpowering. 
One would have supposed that they were 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 6l 

quite in the habit of entertaining waifa, from 
another century, so perfect was their tact. 

For my own part, never do I remember the 
operations of my mind to have been more 
alert and acute than that evening, or my 
intellectual sensibilities more keen. Of course 
I do not mean that the consciousness of my 
amazing situation was for a moment out of 
mind, but its chief effect thus far was to pro- 
duce a feverish elation, a sort of mental intoxi- 
cation.* 

Edith Lcete took little part in the con- 
versation but when several times the mag 
nctism of her beauty drew my glance to her 
face, I found her eyes fixed on me with an 
absorbed intensity, almost like fascination. 
It was evident that I had excited her interest 



* In accounting for this state of mind it moat be remembered th* 
eveept for the topic of our eonverantion* there was in my surroundings 
ne*t to nothing to fuggest what had befallen me. Within a block of 
my home in the old Boston I could have found social circle* vastly mot* 
foreien to roc. The speech of the Itostnnians of the twentieth century 
differ* even le»s from that of their cultured anceMor* of the nineteenth 
than did that of the latter from the langauge of Washington and Frank, 
'in. while the differences between the style of dress and farnJtnsn of Uat 
two epochs are not more marked than I have Known fashion fc> make la 
tfca ttsM of or*« generation. 



J& 



5a LOOKING BACKWARD. 

to an extraordinary degree, as was not aston- 
ishing, supposing her to be a girl of im- 
agination. Though I supposed curiosity was 
the chief motive of her interest, it could but 
affect me as it would not have done had she 
been less beautiful. 

Dr. Leete, as well as the ladies, seemed 
greatly interested in my account of the cir- 
cumstances under which I had gone to sleep 
in the underground chamber. All had sug- 
gestions to offer to account for my having 
been forgotten there, and the theory which 
we finally agreed on ofTers at least a plausible 
explanation, although whether it be in its de- 
tails the true one, nobody, of course, will ever 
know. The layer of ashes found above the 
chamber indicated that the house had been 
burned down. Let it be supposed that the 
conflagration had taken place the night 1 
fell asleep. It only remains to assume that 
Sawyer lost his life in the fire or by some 
accident connected with it, and the rest 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 63 

follows naturally enough. No one but he 
and Dr. rillsbury either know of the exist- 
ence of the chamber or that I was in it, 
and Dr. rillsbury, who had gone that night 
to New Orleans, had probably never heard 
of the fire at all. The conclusion of my 
friends, and of the public, must have been 
that I had perished in the flames. An ex- 
cavation of the ruins, unless thorough, would 
/lot have disclosed the recess in the foundation 
walls connecting with my chamber. To be 
sure, if the site had been again built upon, at 
least immediately, such an excavation would 
have been necessary, but the troublous times 
and the undesirable character of the locality 
might well have prevented rebuilding. The 
sire of the trees in the garden now occupying 
the site indicated, Dr. Lecte said, that for more 
than half a century at least it had been open 
ground. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 



CHAPTER V. 

"IT THEN, in the course of the evening the 
* * ladies retired, leaving Dr. Leete and 
myself alone, he sounded me as to my dispo- 
sition for sleep, saying that if I felt like it my 
bed was ready for me ; but if I was inclined 
to wakefulness nothing would please him bet- 
ter than to bear me company. w I am a late 
bird, myself," he said, "and, without suspi- 
cion of flattery, I may say that a companion 
more interesting than yourself could scarcely 
be imagined. It is decidedly not often that 
one has a chance to converse with a man of 
the nineteenth century." 

Now I had been looking forward all the 
evening with some dread to the time when 1 
should be alone, on retiring for the night. 
Surrounded by these most friendly strangers, 
stimulated and supported by their sympathetic 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 6$ 

interest, I had been able to keep my mental 
balance. Even then, however, in pauses of 
the conversation I had had glimpses, vivid as 
lightning flashes, of the horror of strangeness 
{hat was waiting to be faced when I could no 
longer command diversion. I knew I could 
not sleep that night, and as for lying awake 
and thinking, it argues no cowardice, I am 
sure, to confess that I was afraid of it. When, in 
reply to my host's question, I frankly told him 
this, he replied, that it would be strange if I 
did not feel just so, but that I need have no 
anxiety about sleeping ; whenever I wanted to 
go to bed, he would give me a dose which 
would insure me a sound night's sleep without 
fail. Next morning, no doubt, I would awake 
with the feeling of an old citizen." 

n Before I acquire that," I replied, *I must 
know a little more about the sort of Boston I 
have come back to. You told me when we were 
upon the housetop that though a century only 
had elapsed since I fell asleep, it had been 



N 



66 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

marked by greater changes in the conditions of 
humanity thai/ many a previous millenium. 
With the city 6efore me I could well believe 
that, but I am very curious to know what seme 
of the changes have been. To make a begin- 
ning somewHere, for the subject i^ doubtless a 
large one, what solution, if any, have you 
found for the labor question? It was the 
Sphinx's riddle of the nineteenth century, and 
when I dropped out the Sphinx was threaten- 
ing to devour society, because the answer was 
not forthcoming. It is well worth sleeping a 
hundred years to learn what the right answer 
was, if, indeed, you have found it yet." 

w As no such thingas the labor question is 
knowii no wadays ," replied l5r. L»eete, "and 
there is no way in which it could arise, I sup- 
pose we may claim to have solved it. Society 
would indeed have fully deserved being de- 
voured if it had failed to answer a riddle so 
entirely simple. In fact, to speak by the 
book, it was not necessary for society to solve 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 67 

the riddle at all. It may be said to have 
solved itself. The solution came as the result 
of a process of industrial evolution which could 
not have terminated otherwise. All that so- 
ciety had to do was to recognize and co-oper- 
ate with that evolution, when its tendency had 
become unmistakable." 

"I can only say," I answered, "that at the 
time I fell asleep no such evolution had been 
recognized." 

"It was in 1887 that you fell into this sleep, 
I think you said.** 

"Yes, May 30th, 1887." 

My companion regarded me musingly for 
some moments. Then he observed, "And 
you tell me that even then there was no gen- 
eral recognition of the nature of the crisis 
which society was nearing? Of course, I 
fully credit your statement. The singular 
blindness of your contemporaries to the signs 
of the times is a phenomenon commented on 
by many of our historians, but few facts of 



68 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

history are more difficult for us to realize, so 
obvious and unmistakable as we look back 
seem the indications, which must also have 
come under your eyes, of the transformation 
about to come to pass. I should be interested, 
Mr. West, if you would give me a little more 
definite idea of the view which you and men 
of your grade of intellect took of the state and 
prospects of society in 1887. t You must, at 
least, have realized that the widespread indus- 
trial and social troubles, and the underlying dis- 
satisfaction of all classes with the inequalities 
of society, and the general misery of mankind, 
were portents of great changes of some sort. w l 

"We did, indeed, fully realize that," I 
replied. w We felt that society was dragging 
anchor and in danger of going adrift. Whither 
it would drift nobody could say, but all feared 
the rocks/' 

" Nevertheless," said Dr. Leete, w the set of 
the current was perfectly perceptible if you 
had but taken pains to observe it, and it was 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 



69 



not toward the rocks, but toward a deeper 
channel.*' 

"We had a popular proverb," I replied, 
11 that ' hindsight is better than foresight/ the 
force of which I shall now, no doubt, appre- 
ciate more fully than ever. All I can say is, 
that the prospect was such when I went into 
that long sleep that I should not have been 
surprised had I looked down from your 
housetop to-day on a heap of charred and 
moss-grown ruins instead of this glorious 
city/' 

Dr. Lecte had listened to me with close 
attention and nodded thoughtfully as I finished 
speaking. " What you have said," he ob- 
served, "will be regarded as a most valuable 
vindication of Storiot, whose account of your 
era has been generally thought exaggerated 
in its picture of the gloom and confusion of 
men's minds. That a period of transition like 
that should be full of excitement and agita- 
tion was indeed to be looked for, but seeing 



70 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

how plain was the tendency of the forces in 
operation, it was natural to believe that hope 
rather than fear would have been the prevailing 
temper of the popular mind." 

"You have not yet told me what was the 
answer to the riddle which you found/' I said. 
w I am impatient to know by what contradiction 
of natural sequence the peace and prosperity 
which you now seem to enjoy could have been 
the outcome of an era like my own." 

"Excuse me," replied my host," "but do 
yov smoke?" It was not till our cigars were 
lighted and drawing well that he resumed. 
w Since you are in the humor to talk rather 
than to sleep, as I certainly am, perhaps I can- 
not do better than to try to give you enough 
idea *of our modern industrial system to 
dissipate at least the impression that there is 
any mystery about the process of its evolution. 
The Bostonians of your day had the reputation 
of being great askers of questions, and I am 
going to show my descent by asking you one 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 7 1 

to begin with. What should you name as the 
most prominent feature of the labor troubles of 
your day ? " 

n Y^![?yiJbS striker pf course/' I replied* 
" Exactly; but what made the strikes so 
formidable?" 
"The great labor organizations." 
n And what was the motive of these great 
organizations?" 

"The workmen claimed they had to organ- 
ize to get their rights from the big corpora- 
tions/' I replied. 

"That is just it," said Dr. Leete, "the or- 
ganization of labor and the strikes were an 
effect, merely, of the concentration of capital 
in greater masses than had ever been known 
before. Before this concentration began, while 
as yet commerce and industry were conducted 
by innumerable petty concerns with small rap- 
ital, instead of a small number of great concerns 
with vast capital, the individual workman was 
relatively important and independent in hit 



72 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

relations to the employer. Moreover, when 
a little capital or a new idea was enough to 
start a man in business for himself, working- 
men were constantly becoming employers and 
there was no hard and fast line between the 
two classes. ' Labor unions were needless then, 
', and general strikes out of the question. But 
when the era of small concerns with small 
capital was succeeded by that of the great 
\1 aggregations of capital, all this was changed. 
The individual laborer who had been relatively 
important to the small employer was reduced to 
insignificance and powerlessness over against 
the great corporation, while, at the same time, 
the way upward to the grade of employer was 
closed to him. Self-defence drove him to 
union with his fellows. 

"The records of the period show that the out- 
cry against the concentration of capital was 
furious. Men believed that it threatened 
. society with a form of tyranny more ab- 
\ horrent than it had ever endured. They be* 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 73 

lieved that the great corporations were prepar- 
ing for them the yoke of a baser servitude than 
had ever been imposed on the race, servitude 
not to men but to soulless machines incapable 
of any motive but insatiable greed. Looking 
back, we cannot wonder at their desperation, 
for certainly humanity was never confronted 
with a fate more sordid and hideous than would 
have been the era of corporate tyranny which 
they anticipated. 

"Meanwhile, without being in the smallest 
degree checked by the clamor against it, the 
absorption of business by ever larger monopo- 
lies continued. In the United States, where 
this tendency was later in developing than in 
Europe, there was not, after the beginning of 
the last quarter of the century, any opportunity 
whatever for individual enterprise in any im- 
portant field of industry, unless backed by a 
great capital. During the last decade of the 
century, such small businesses as still remained 
were fast failing survivals of a past epoch, or 



74 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

mere parasites on the great corporations, or else 
existed in fields too small to attract the great 
capitalists. Small businesses, as far as they 
3till remained, were reduced to the condition 
of rats and mice, living in holes and corners, 
and counting on evading notice for the enjoy- 
ment of existence. The railroads had gone on 
combining till a few great syndicates controlled 
every rail in the land. In manufactories, every 
important staple was controlled by a syndicate. 
These syndicates, pools, trusts, or whatever 
their name, fixed prices and crushed all com- 
petition except when combinations as vast as 
themselves arose. Then a struggle, resulting 
in a still greater consolidation, ensued. The 
great city bazar crushed its country rivals with 
branch stores, and in the city itself absorbed its 
smaller rivals till the business of a whole quarter 
was concentrated under one roof with a hundred 
former proprietors of shops serving as clerks. 
Having no business of his own to put his money 
in, the small capitalist, at the same time that 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 75 

he took service under the corporation, found 
no other investment for his money but its 
stocks and bonds, thus becoming doubly de- 
pendent upon it. 

"The fact that the desperate popular oppo- 
sition to the consolidation of business in a few 
powerful hands had no effect to check it, proves 
that there must have been a strong economical 
reason for it. The small capitalists, with their 
innumerable petty concerns, had, in fact, 
yielded the field to the great aggregations of 
capital, because they belonged to a day of 
small things and were totally incompetent U 
the demands of an age of sleam and telegraphy 
and the gigantic scale of its enterprises. To 
restore the former order of things, even if 
possible, would have involved returning to 
the day of stage-coaches. Oppressive and 
intolerable as was the regime of the great 
consolidations of capital, even i ts victims, while 
they cursed it, were forced to admit the pro- 
digious increase of eflidency^whiclr had~been 



76 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

imparted to the national industries, the vast 
economies effected by concentration of manage- 
ment and unity of organization, and to confess 
that since the new system had taken the place 
of the old, the wealth of the world had increased 
at s rate before undreamed of. To be sure 
this vast Increase had gone chiefly to make 
the rich richer, increasing the gap between 
them and the poor; but the fact remained 
that, as a means merely of producing wealth, 
capital had been proved efficient in proportion 
to its consolidation. The restoration of the 
old system with the subdivision of capital, 
if it were possible, might indeed bring back a 
greater equality of conditions with more indi- 
vidual dignity and freedom, but it would be at 
the price of general poverty and the arrest 
of material progress. 

"Was there, then, no way of commanding 
the services of the mighty wealth-producing 
principle of consolidated capital, without bow- 
ing down to a plutocracy like that of Car- 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 77 

thage? As soon as men began to ask them- 
selves these questions, they found the answer 
ready for them. The movement toward the 
conduct of business by larger and larger 
aggregations of capital, the tendency toward 
monopolies, which had been so desperately 
and vainly resisted, was recognized at last, in 
its true significance, as a process which only 
needed to complete its logical evolution to 
open a golden future to humanity. 

n Early in the last century the evolution was 
completed by the final consolidation of the 
entire capital of the nation. The industry 
and commerce of the country, ceasing to be 
conducted by a set of irresponsible corpo- 
rations and syndicates of private persons at 
their caprice and for their profit, were intrusted 
to a single syndicate representing the people, 
to be conducted in the common interest for the 
common profit. The nation, that is to say, 
organized as the one great business corpora- 
tion in which all other corporations were 






78 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

absorbed ; it became the one capitalist in the 
place of all other capitalists, the sole em- 
ployer, the final monopoly in which all pre- 
vious and lesser monopolies were swallowed 
up, a monopoly in the profits and economies 
of which all citizens shared. In a word, the 
people of the United States concluded to as- 
sume the conduct of their own business, just 
as one hundred odd years before they had 
assumed the conduct of their own government, 
organizing now for industrial purposes on 
precisely the same grounds on which they had 
then organized for political ends. At last, 
strangely late in the world's history, the ob- 
vious fact was perceived that no business is so 
essentially the public business as the industry 
and commerce on which the people's livelihood 
depends, and that to entrust it to private pei- 
sons to be managed for private profit, is a 
folly similar in kind, though vastly greater 
in magnitude, to that of surrendering the 
functions of political government to kings 






LOOKING BACKWARD. 79 

and nobles to be conducted for their per- 
sonal glorification. 

"Such a stupendous change as you de- 
scribe," said I, "did not, of course, take place 
without great bloodshed and terrible con- 
vulsions." 

" On the contrary," replied Dr. Leete, w there 
was absolutely no violence. The change had 
been long foreseen. Public opinion had be* 
come fully ripe for it, and the whole mass of 
the people was behind it. There was no 
more possibility of opposing it by force than 
by argument. On the other hand the popular 
sentiment toward the great corporations and 
those identified with them had ceased to be 
one of bitterness, as they came to realize their 
necessity as a link, a transition phase, in 
the evolution of the true industrial system. 
The most violent foes of the great private 
monopolies were now forced to recognize how 
invaluable and indispensaoie nad been their 
office in educating the people up to the point 



80 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

of assuming control of their own business. 
Fifty years before, the consolidation of the 
industries of the country under national con- 
trol would have seemed a very daring ex- 
periment to the most sanguine. But by a 
series of object lessons, seen and studied by 
all men, the great corporations had taught 
the people an entirely new set of ideas on this 
subject. They had seen for many years syn- 
dicates handling revenues greater than those 
of states, and directing the labors of hun- 
dreds of thousands of men with an efficiency 
and economy unattainable in smaller opera- 
tions. It had come to be recognized as an 
axiom that the larger the business the simpler 
the principles that can be applied to it ; that, as 
the machine is truer than the hand, so the 
system, which in a great concern does the 
work of the master's eye in a small business, 
turns out more accurate results. Thusitj^ime 
about that, thank s to the corporations them- 
selves, when it was proposM that the nation 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 8l 

rfhould assume their functions, the suggestion 
impIiecT nothing which secmcd~inipnicticable 
even to the timicT To be sQfETifwas a~step be- 
yond any yet taken, a broader generalization, 
but the very fact that the nation would be the 
sole corporation in the field would, it was seen, 
relieve the undertaking of many difficulties 
with which the partial monopolies had con- 
tended." 



8a LOOKING BACKWARD. 



CHAPTER VI. 

TT^VR. LEETE ceased speaking, and I re- 
-*-^ mained silent, endeavoring to form 
some general conception of the changes in 
the arrangements of society implied in the 
tremendous revolution which he had de- 
scribed. 

Finally I said, "The idea of such an ex- 
tension of the functions of government is, tc 
say the least, rather overwhelming." 

w Extension 1 " he repeated, w where is the 
extension?" 

w In my day," I replied, "it was considered 
that the proper functions of government, strictly 
speaking, were limited to keeping the peace 
and defending the people against the public 
enemy, that is, to the military and police 
powers." 

"And, in heaven's name, who are the pub- 




BOOKING BACKWARD. 83 

lie enemies ?" exclaimed Dr. Leete. "Are 
they France, England, Germany, or hunger, 
cold and nakedness ? In your day governments 
were accustomed, on the slightest international 
misunderstanding, to seize upon the bodies 
of citizens and deliver them over by hun- 
dreds of thousands to death and mutilation, 
wasting their treasures the while like water ; 
and all this oftenest for no imaginable profit 
to the victims. We have no wars now, and 
our governments no war powers, but in order 
to protect every citizen against hunger, cold 
and nakedness, and provide for all his physi- 
cal and mental needs, the function is assumed 
of directing his industry for a term of years. 
No, Mr. West, I am sure on reflection you will 
perceive that it was in your age, not in ours, 
that the extension of the functions of govern- 
ments was extraordinary. Not even for the 
best ends would men now allow their govern- 
ments such powers as were then used for the 
most maleficent." 



84 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

"Leaving comparisons aside," I said, "the 
demagoguery and corruption of oin public 
men would have been considered, in my day 
insuperable objections to any assumption bj 
government of the charge of the national 
industries. We should have thought thaf no 
arrangement could be worse than to entrust 
the politicians with control of the wealth-pro- 
ducing machinery of the country. Its ma- 
terial interests were quite too much the football 
of parties as it was." 

"No doubt you were right," rejoined Dr. 
Leete, "but all that is changed now. We 
have no part ies or polit icians, and as for 
demagoguery, and corruption, they are words 
having only an historical significance." 

"Human nature itself must have changed 
very much," I said. 

"Not at all," was Dr. Leete's reply, "but 
the conditions of human life have changed, 
and with them the motives of human action. 
The organization of society no longer offers a 



f &* < . * . 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 85 

premium on baseness. But these are matters 
which you can only understand as you come, 
with time, to know us better." 

"But you have not yet told me how you 
have settled the labor problem. It is the prob- 
lem of capital which we have been discuss- 
ing," I said. "After the nation had assumed 
conduct of the mills, machinery, railroads, 
farms, mines and capital in general of the 
country, the labor question still remained. 
In assuming the responsibilities of capital, the 
nation had assumed the difficulties of the cap- 
italist's position." 

"The moment the nation assumed the re- 
sponsibilities of capital, those difficulties van- 
ished," replied Dr. Leete. "The national 
organization of labor under one direction was 
the complete solution of what was, in your 
day and under your system, justly regarded 
as the insoluble labor problem. When the 
nation became the sole employer, all the 
citizens, by virtue of their citizenship, became 



86 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

employees, to be distributed according to the 
needs of industry." 

"That is," I suggested, "you have simply 
applied the principle of universal military 
service, as it was understood in our day, to 
the labor question." 

"Yes," said Dr. Leete, "that was something 
which followed as a matter of course as soon 
as the nation had become the sole capitalist. 
The people were already accustomed to the 
idea that the obligation of every citizen, not 
physically disabled, to contribute his military 
services to the defence of the nation, was 
equal and absolute. 'JThat it was equally the 
duty of every citizen to contribute his quota 
of industrial or intellectual services to the 
maintenance of the nation, was equally evi- 
dent, though it was not until the nation 
became the employer of labor that citizens 
were able to render this sort of service with 
any pretence either of universality or equity. 
No organization of labor was possible wheii 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 87 

the employing power was divided among 
hundreds or thousands of individuals and 
corporations, between which concert of any 
kind was neither desired, nor indeed feasible. 
It constantly happened then that vast num- 
bers who desired to labor could find no oppor- 
tunity, and on the other hand, those who 
desired to evade a part or all of their debt 
could easily do so." 

n Service, now, I suppose, is compulsory 
upon all," I suggested. 

"It is rather a matter of course than of 
compulsion," replied Dr. Leete. "It is re- 
garded as so absolutely natural and reasonable 
that the idea of its being compulsory has 
ceased to be thought of. He would be thought 
to be an incredibly contemptible person who 
should need compulsion in such a case. Nev- 
ertheless, to speak of service being compulsory 
would be a weak way to state its absolute 
inevitablcness. Our entire social order is so 
wholly based upon and deduced from it that 




88 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

if it were conceivable that a man could escape 
it, he would be left with no possible way to 
provide for his existence. lie would have 
excluded himself from the world, cut himself 
off from his kind, in a word, committed 
suicide." 

" Is tie term of service in this industrial army 
for life ? w 

w Oh, no ; it both begins later and ends ear 
Her than the average working period in your 
day. Your workshops were filled with child- 
ren and old men, but we hold the period of 
youth sacred to education, and the period of 
maturity, when the physical forces begin to 
flag, equally sacred to ease and agreeable re- 
laxation. The period of industrial service is 
twenty-four years, beginning at the close of the 
course of education at twenty-one and termin- 
ating at forty-five. After forty-five, while dis- 
charged from labor, the citizen still remains 
liable to special calls, in case of emergencies 
causing a sudden great increase in the demand 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 89 

for labor, till he reaches the age of fifty-five , but 
such calls are rarely, in fact almost never, 
made. The fifteenth day of October of every 
year is what we call Muster Day, because 
those who have reached the age of twenty-one 
are then mustered into the industrial service, 
and at the same time those who, after twenty- 
four years service, have reached the age of 
forty-five are honorably mustered out. It is the 
great day of the year with us, whence we 
reckon all other events, our Olympiad, save 
that it is annual." 



g0 LOOKING BACKWARD. 



CHAPTER VII. 

" TT is after you have mustered your indus- 

■*■ trial army into service," I said, "that I 
should expect the chief difficulty to arise, for 
there its analogy with a military army must 
cease. Soldiers have all the same thing, and 
a very simple thing, to do, namely, to 
practice the manual of arms, to march and 
stand guard. But the industrial army must 
learn and follow two or three hundred diverse 
trades and avocations. What administrative 
talent can be equal to determining wisely what 
trade or business every individual in a great 
nation shall pursue ? " 

"The administration has nothing to do with 
determining that point." 

"Who does determine it, then?" I asked. 

" Every man for himself, in accordance with 
his na*ural aptitude, the utmost pains being 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 9) 

taken to enable him to find out what his natural 
aptitude really is. The principle on which our 
industrial army is organized is that a man's 
natural endowments, mental and physical, de- 
termine what he can work at most profitably 
to the nation and most satisfactorily to himself. 
While the obligation 01 service in some form 
is not to be evaded, voluntary election, sub- 
ject only to necessary regulation, is depended 
on to determine the particular sort of service 
every man is to render. As an individual's 
satisfaction during his term of service depends 
on his having an occupation to his taste, par- 
ents and teachers watch from early years for 
indications of special aptitudes in children. 
Manual industrial training is no part of our 
educational system, which is directed to general 
culture and the humanities, but a theoretical 
knowledge of the processes of the various in- 
dustries is given, and our youth are constantly 
encouraged to visit the workshops, and are fre- 
quently taken on long excursions to acquire 



92 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

familiarity with special industries. Usually, 

long before he is mustered into service, a young 

man, if he has a taste for any special pursuit, 

has found it out and probably acquired a great 

deal of information about it. If, however, he 

has no special taste, and makes no election 

\A ^ when opportunity is offered, he is assigned to 

V.\y any avocation among those of an unskilled 

\ character which may be in need of men." 

"Surely," I said, "it can hardly be that the 
number of volunteers for any trade is exactly 
ihe number needed in that trade. It must be 
generally either under or over the demand." 

"The supply of volunteers is always ex- 
pected to fully equal the demand," replied Dr. 
Leete. " It is the business of the administration 
to see that this is the case. The rate of volun- 
teering for each trade is closely watched. If 
there be a noticeably greater excess of volun- 
teers over men needed in any trade, it is in- 
ferred that the trade offers greater attractions 
than others. On the other hand, if the number 



{ 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 93 

of volunteers for a trade tends to drop below 
the demand, it is inferred that it is thought more 
arduous. It is the business of the administra- 
tion to seek constantly to equalize the attrac- 
tions of the trades, so far as the conditions of 
labor in them are concerned, so that all trades 
shall be equally attractive to persons having 
natural tastes for them. This is done by mak- 
ing the hours of labor in different trades to 
differ according to their arduousness. The 
lighter trades, prosecuted under the most 
agreeable circumstances, have in this way the 
longest hours, while an arduous trade, such as 
mining, has very short hours. There is no 
theory, no a friori rule, by which the respective 
attractiveness of industries is determined. The 
administration, in taking burdens off one class 
of workers and adding them to other classes, 
wimply follows the fluctuations of opinion among 
the workers themselves as indicated by the rate 
of volunteering. The principle is that no man's 
work ought to be, on the whole, harder for him 



94 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

than any other man's for him, the workers them- 
selves to be the judges. There are no limits 
to the application of this rule. If any particu- 
lar occupation is in itself so arduous or so 
oppressive that, in order to induce volunteers, 
the day's work in it had to be reduced to ten 
minutes, it would be done. If, even then, no 
man was willing to do it, it would remain un- 
done. But of course, in point of fact, a mod- 
erate reduction in the hours of labor, or addition 
of other privileges, suffices to secure all needed 
volunteers for any occupation necessary to 
men. If, indeed, the unavoidable difficulties 
and dangers of such a necessary pursuit were 
so great that no inducement of compensating 
advantages would overcome men's repugnance 
to it, the administration would only need to 
take it out of the common order of occupations 
by declaring it 'extra hazardous,' and those 
who pursued it especially worthy of the national 
gratitude, to be overrun with volunteers. Our 
young men are ^ery greedy of honor, and do 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 95 

not let slip such opportunities. Of course you 
will see that dependence on the purely volun- 
tary choice of ([vocations involves the abolition 
in all of anything like unhygienic conditions 
or special peril to life and limb. Health and 
safety are conditions common to al l industries. 
The nation does not maim and slaughter its 
workmen by thousands, as did the private 
capitalists and corporations of your day." 

"When there are more who want to enter 
a particular trade than there is room for, how 
do you decide between the applicants?" I in 
quired. 

n Preference is given to those with the best 
general records in their preliminary service 
as unskilled laborers, and as youths in theit 
educational course. No man, however, who 
through successive years remains persistent 
in his desire to show what he can do at 
any particular trade, is in the end denied 
an opportunity. I should add, in reference 
to the counter-possibility of some sudden 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 

failure of volunteers in a particular trade, 
or some sudden necessity of an increased 
force, that the administration, while depending 
on the voluntary system for filling up the 
trades as a rule, holds always in reserve the 
power to call for special volunteers, or draft 
any force needed from any quarter. Gener- 
ally, however, all needs of this sort can be 
met by details from the class of unskilled or 
common laborers." 

* How is this class of common laborers 
recruited?" I asked. w Surely nobody vol- 
untarily enters that." 

w It is the grade to which all new recruits 
belong for the first three years of their service. 
It is not till after this period, during which he 
is assignable to any work at the discretion of 
his superiors, that the young man is allowed 
to elect a special avocation. These three years 
of stringent discipline none are exempt from." 

"As an industrial system, I should think 
this might be extremely efficient," I said, " but 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 97 

I don't see that it makes any provision for the 
professional classes, the men who serve the 
nation with brains instead of hands. Of course 
you can't get along without the brain-workers. 
How. then, are they selected from those who 
are to serve as farmers and mechanics ? That 
must require a very delicate sort of sifting 
process, I should say." 

"So it does," replied Dr. Leete, "the most 
delicate possible test is needed here, and so 
we leave the question whether a man shall 
be a brain or hand worker entirely to him to 
settle. At the end of the term of three years 
as a common laborer, which every man 
must serve, it is for him to choose in accord- 
ance to his natural tastes whether he will fit 
himself for an art or profession, or be a farmer 
or mechanic. If he feels that he can do bet- 
ter work with his brains than his muscles he 
finds every facility provided for testing the 
reality of his supposed bent, of cultivating it, 
and if fit, of pursuing it as hia Jk vocation. 



98 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

The schools of technology, of medicine, of 
art, of music, of histrionics and of highet 
liberal learning, are always open to aspirants 
without condition/' 

w Are not the schools flooded with young men 
whose only motive is to avoid work ? " 

Dr. Leete smiled a little grimly. 

w No one is at all likely to enter the profes- 
sional schools for the purpose of avoiding work, 
I assure you," he said. "They are intended 
for those with special aptitude for the branches 
they teach, and any one without it would find 
it easier to do double hours at his trade than 
try to keep up with the classes. Of course 
many honestly mistake their vocation, and, 
finding themselves unequal to the requirements 
of the schools, drop out and return to the in- 
dustrial service ; no discredit attaches to such 
persons, for the public policy is to encourage all 
to develop suspected talents which only actual 
tests can prove the reality of. The profes- 
sional and scientific schools of your day de* 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 99 

pended on the patronage of their pupils for 
support, and the practice appears to have been 
common of giving diplomas to unfit persons, 
who afterwards found their way into the pro- 
fessions. Our schools are national institutions, 
and to have passed their tests is a proof of 
special abilities not to be questioned." 

"This opportunity for a professional train- 
ing," the doctor continued, " remains open to 
every man till the age of thirty-five is reached, 
after which students are not received, as there 
would remain too brief a period before the age 
of discharge in which to serve the nation in their 
professions. In your day young men had to 
choose their professions very young, and there- 
fore, in a large proportion of instances, wholly 
mistook their vocations. It is recognized now- 
aday* that the natural aptitudes of some are 
later than those of others in developing, and 
therefore, while the choice of a profession may 
be made as early as twenty-four, it remains 
open for eleven years longer. I should add thai 



XOO LOOKING BACKWARD. 

the right of transfer, under proper restrictions) 
from a trade first chosen to one preferred later 
in life, also remains open to a man till thirty- 
five." 

A question which had a dozen times before 
been on my lips, now found utterance, a ques- 
tion which touched upon what, in my time, 
had been regarded the most vital difficulty in 
the way of any final settlement of the industrial 
problem. tf It is an extraordinary thing," I 
said, "that you should not yet have said a word 
about the method of adjusting wages. Since 
the nation is the sole employer the government 
must fix the rate of wages and determine just 
how much everybody shall earn, from the doc- 
tors to the diggers. All I can say is, that this 
plan would never have worked with us, and I 
don't see how it can now unless human nature 
has changed. In my day, nobody was satis- 
fied with his wages or salary. Even if he 
felt he received enough he was sure his neigh- 
bor had too much, which was as bad. If the 




LOOKING BACKWARD. IOX 

universal discontent on this subject, instead of 
being dissipated in curses and strikes directed 
against innumerable employers, could have 
been concentrated upon one, and that the gov- 
ernment, the strongest ever devised would not 
have seen two pay days." 

Dr. Lcete laughed heartily. 

"Very true, very true," he said, "a general 
strike would most probably have followed thfc 
first pay day, and a strike directed against a 
government is a revolution." 

"How, then, do you avoid a revolution every 
pay day?" I demanded. "Has some prodig- 
ious philosopher devised a new system of calcu- 
lus satisfactory to all for determining the exact 
and comparative value of all sorts of service, 
whether by brawn or brain, by hand or voice, 
by ear or eye? Or has human natyre itself 
changed, so that no man looks upon his own 
things but 'every man on the things of his 
neighbor? ' One or the other of these events 
must be the explanation." 



102 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

n Neither one nor the other, however, is," 
was my host's laughing response. n And now, 
Mr. West," he continued, "you must remem- 
ber that ) r ou are my patient as well as mj 
guest, and permit me to prescribe sleep for 
you before we have any more conversation. 
It is after three o'clock." 

w The prescription is, no doubt, a wise one," 
I said. w I only hope it can be filled." 

W I will see to that," the doctor replied, and 
he did, for he gave me a wine glass of some- 
thing or other which sent me to sleep as soon 
as my head touched the pillow. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 103 



CHAPTER VIII. 

X \ THEN I awoke I felt greatly refreshed 
* * and lay a considerable time in a 
dozing state, enjoying the sensation of bodily 
comfort. The experiences of the day pre- 
vious, my waking to find myself in the year 
2000, the sight of the new Boston, my host 
and his family, and the wonderful things I 
had heard, were a blank in my memory. I 
thought I was in my bed-chamber at home, 
and the half dreaming, half waking fancies 
which passed before my mind related to the 
incidents and experiences of my former life. 
Dreamily I reviewed the incidents of Decora- 
tion Day, my trip in company with Edith and 
her parents to Mount Auburn, and my dining 
with them on our return to the city. I recalled 
how extremely well Edith had looked, and 
from that fell to thinking of our marriage; 



XO4 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

but scarcely had my imagination begun to de- 
velop this delightful theme than my waking 
dream was cut short by the recollection of the 
letter I had received the night before from the 
builder, announcing that the fresh strikes might 
postpone indefinitely the completion of the 
new house. The chagrin which this recollec- 
tion brought with it effectually roused me. 
I remembered that I had an appointment 
with the builder at eleven o'clock, to dis- 
cuss the strike, and opening my eyes, looked 
up at the clock at the foot of my bed to see 
what time it was. But no clock met my glance, 
and what was more, I instantly perceived that 
I was not in my room. Starting up on my 
couch I stared wildly around the strange apart- 
ment. 

I think it must have been many seconds that I 
sat up thus in bed staring about, without being 
able to regain the clew to my personal identity. 
I was no more able to distinguish myself from 
pure being during those moments than we may 



LOOKING BACKWARD. X05 

suppose a soul in the rough to be before it has 
received the ear-marks, the individualizing 
touches which make it a person. Strange that 
the sense of this inability should be such an- 
guish, but so we arc constituted. There are 
no words for the mental torture I endured 
during this helpless, eyeless groping for my- 
self in a boundless void. No other experi* 
ence of the mind gives probably anything like 
the sense of absolute intellectual arrest from 
the loss of a mental fulcrum, a starting point 
of thought, which comes during such a momen- 
tary obscuration of the sense of one's identity. 
I trust I may never know what it is again. 

I do not know how long this condition had 
lasted, — it seemed an interminable time, — 
when, like a (lash, the recollection of every- 
thing came back to me. I remembered who 
and where I was, and how I had come here, 
and that these scenes as of the life of yesterday 
which had been passing before my mind con- 
cerned a generation long, long ago mouldered 



106 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

to dust. Leaping from bed, I stood in the 
middle of the room clasping my temples with 
all my might between my hands to keep them 
from bursting. Then I fell prone on the couch 
and, burying my face in the pillow, lay with- 
out motion. The reaction which was inevita- 
ble, from *he mental elation, the fever of the 
intellect that had been the first effect of my 
tremendous experience, had arrived. The emo- 
tional crisis, which had awaited the full 
realization of my actual position and all that it 
implied, was upon me, and with set teeth and la- 
boring chest, gripping the bedstead with frenzied 
strength, I lay there and fought for my sanity. 
I In my mind, all had broken loose, habits of 
feeling, associations of thought, ideas of per- 
sons and things, all had dissolved and lost 
coherence and were seething together in ap- 
parently irretrievable chaos. There were no 
rallying points, nothing was left stable. There 
only remained the will, and was any human 
will strong enough to say to such a weltering 




LOOKING BACKWARD. X07 

% 

sea, "Peace, be still." I dared not think. 
Every effort to reason upon what had befallen 
me, and realize what it implied, set up an in- 
tolerable swimming of the brain. The idea 
that I was tvvo persons, that my identity was 
double, began to fascinate me with its simple 
solution of my experience. 

I knew that I was on the verge of losing my 
mental balance. If I lay there thinking, I was 
doomed. Diversion of some sort I must have, 
at least the diversion of physical exertion. I 
sprang up and, hastily dressing, opened the 
door of my room and went down stairs. The 
hour was very early, it being not yet fairly 
light, and I found no one in the lower part of 
the house. There was a hat in the hall, and, 
opening the front door, which was fastened 
with a slightness indicating that burglary was 
not among the perils of the modern Boston, I 
found myself on the street. For two hours I 
walked or ran through the streets of the city, 
visiting most quarters of the peninsular part of 



X08 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

the town. None but an antiquarian who knows 
something of the contrast which the Boston of 
to-day offers to the Boston of the nineteenth 
century, can begin to appreciate what a series 
of bewildering surprises I underwent during 
that time. Viewed from the housetop the day 
before, the city had indeed appeared strange 
to me, but that was only in its general aspect. 
How complete the change had been I first real- 
ized now that I walked the streets. The few 
old landmarks which still remained only inten- 
sified this effect, for without them I might have 
imagined myself in a foreign town. A man 
may leave his native city in childhood, and 
return fifty years later, perhaps, to find it 
transformed in many features. He is aston- 
ished, but he is not bewildered. He is aware 
of a great lapse of time, and of changes like- 
wise occurring in himself meanwhile. He* but 
dimly recalls the city as he knew it when a 
child. But remember that there was no sense 
of any lapse of time with me. So far as my 



LOOKING BACKWARD. IO9 

consciousness was concerned, it was but yes- 
terday, but a few hours, since I had walked 
these streets in which scarcely a feature had 
escaped a complete metamorphosis. The 
mental image of the old city was so fresh and 
strong that it did not yield to the impression 
of the actual city, but contended with it, so that 
it was first one and then the other which seemed 
the more unreal. There was nothing I saw 
which was not blurred in this way, like the 
faces of a composite photograph. 

Finally I stood again at the door of the 
house from which I had come out. My feet 
must have instinctively brought me back to the 
site of my old home, for I had no clear idea of 
returning thither. It was no more homelike 
to me than any other spot in this city of a 
strange generation, nor were its inmates less 
utterly and necessarily strangers than all the 
other men and women now on the earth. 
Had the door of the house been locked, I 
should have been reminded by its resistance 



IZO LOOKING BACKWARD. 

that I had no object in entering, and turned 
away, but it yielded to my hand, and advanc- 
ing with uncertain steps through the hall, I 
entered one of the apartments opening from it. 
Throwing myself into a chair, I covered my 
burning eyeballs with my hands to shut out the 
horror of strangeness. My mental confusion 
was so intense as to produce actual nausea. 
The anguish of those moments, during which 
my brain seemed melting, or the abjectness of 
my sense of helplessness, how can I describe? 
In my despair I groaned aloud. I began to 
feel that unless some help should come, 1 was 
about to lose my mind. And just then it did 
come. I heard the rustle of drapery, and 
looked up. Edith Leete was standing before 
me. Her beautiful face was full of the most 
poignant sympathy. 

* Oh, what is • the matter, Mr. West ? " she 
•aid. " I was here when you came in. I saw 
how dreadfully distressed you looked, and 
when I heard you groan, I could not keep 



LOOKING BACKWARD. Ill 

silent. What has happened to you? Where 
have you been? Can't I do something for 
you?* 

Perhaps she involuntarily held out her 
hands in a gesture of compassion as she 
spoke. At any rate I had caught them in 
my own and was clinging to them with an im- 
pulse as instinctive as that which prompts the 
drowning man to seize upon and cling to the 
rope which is thrown him as he sinks for the 
last time. As I looked up into her compas- 
sionate face and her eyes moist with pity, my 
brain ceased to whirl. The tender human 
sympathy which thrilled in the soft pressure 
of her fingers had brought me the support I 
needed. Its effect to calm and soothe was 
like that of some wonder-working elixir. 

"God bless you," I said, after a few moments. 
n He must have sent you to me just now. I think 
I was in danger of going crazy if you had not 
come.* At this the tears came into her eyes. 

n Oh f Mr. West I n she cried. * How heart- 



112 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

less you must have thought us 1 How could we 
leave you to yourself so long 1 But it is over 
now, is it not? You are better, surely. " 

" Yes," I said, "thanks to you. If you will 
not go away quite yet, I shall be myself soon." 

w Indeed I will not go away," she said, with 
a little quiver of the face, more expressive 
of her sympathy than a volume of words. 
"You must not think us" so heartless as we 
seemed in leaving you so by yourself. I 
scarcely slept last night, for thinking how 
strange your waking would be this morning ; 
but father said you would sleep till late. He 
said that it would be better not to show too 
much sympathy with you at first, but to try to 
divert your thoughts and make you feel that 
you were among friends. " 

"You have indeed made me feel that," 1 
answered. " But you see it is a good deal of a 
jolt to drop a hundred years, and although I 
did not seem to feel it so much last night, I 
have had very odd sensations this morning." 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 113 

While I held her hands and kept my eyes on 
her face, I could already even jest a little at 
my plight. 

"No one thought of such a thing as your 
going out in the city alone so early in the 
morning," she went on. " Oh, Mr. West, 
where have you been ? " 

Then I told her of my morning's experience 
from my first waking till the moment I had 
looked up to see her before me, just as I have 
told it here. She was overcome by distressful 
pity during the recital, and, though I had re- 
leased one of her hands, did not try to take 
from me the other, seeing, no doubt, how much 
good it did me to hold it. " I can think a little 
what this feeling must have been like," she 
said. "It must have been terrible. And to 
think you were left alone to struggle with it I 
Can you ever forgive us ? " 

"But it is gone now. You have driven it 
quite away for the present," I said. 

* You will not let it return again," she que- 
ried anxiously. 



114 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

"I can't quite say that," I replied. "It 
might be too early to say that, considering 
how strange everything will still be to me." 

" But you will not try to contend with it alone 
again, at least," she persisted. w Promise that 
you will come to us, and let us sympathize 
with you, and try to help you. Perhaps 
we can't do much, but it will surely be 
better than to try to bear such feelings alone." 

W I will come to you if you will let me," 
I said. 

"Oh yes, yes, I beg you will," she said 
eagerly. " I would do anything to help you 
that I could." 

" All you need do is to be sorry for me, a» 
you seem to be now," I replied. 

"It is understood, then," she said, smiling 
with wet eyes, w that you are to come and tell 
me next time, and not run all over Boston 
among strangers." 

This assumption that we were not strangers 
seemed scarcely strange, so near within these 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 11$ 

few minutes had my trouble and her sympa- 
thetic tears brought us. 

"I will promise, when you come to me," 
she added, with an expression of charm- 
ing archness, passing, as she continued, into 
one of enthusiasm, "to seem as sorry for you 
as you wish, but you must not for a moment 
suppose that I am really sorry for you at all, 
or that 1 think you will long be sorry for your- 
self. I know as well as I know that the world 



now is heaven compared with what it was in 
your day, that the only feeling you will have 
after a little while will be one of thankfulness 
to God that~youT'~Hfe~uT "That "age~waJs~M 
strangely cut off, to be returned to you w 
this." 



1X6 LOOKING BACKWARD. 



CHAPTER IX. 

TT^vR. and Mrs. Leete were evidently not a 
-*-^ little startled to learn, when they pres- 
ently appeared, that I had been all over the 
city alone that morning, and it was apparent 
that they were agreeably surprised to see that I 
seemed so little agitated after the experience. 

"Your stroll could scarcely have tailed to 
be a very interesting one," said Mrs. Leete, as 
we sat down to table soon after. " You must 
have seen a good many new things." 

" I saw very little that was not new," I re- 
plied. w But I think what surprised me as 
much as anything, was not to find any stores 
on Washington street, or any banks on State. 
What have you done with the merchants and 
bankers? Hung them all, perhaps, as the 
anarchists wanted to do in my day ? " 

"Not so bad as that," replied Dr. Leete. 




LOOKING BACKWARD. ZI7 

"We have simply dispensed with them. 
Their functions are obsolete in the modern 
world." 

"Who sells you things when you want to 
buy them?" I inquired. 

"There is neither selling nor b uyin g nowa - 
days ; the distribution o£ goods is effected in 
another way. As to the bankers, having no 
money, we have no use for those gentry." 

"Miss Lcetc," said I, turning to Edith, "I 
am afraid that your father is making sport of 
me. I don't blame him, for the temptation my 
innocence offers must be extraordinary. But, 
really, there arc limits to my credulity as to 
possible alterations in the social system." 

" Father has no idea of jesting, I am sure," 
the replied, with a reassuring smile. 

The conversation took another turn then, 
the point of ladies' fashions in the nineteenth 
century being raised, if I remember rightly, by 
Mrs. Leetc, and it was not till after breakfast, 
when the doctor had invited me up to the 



Il8 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

9 

housetop, which appeared to be a favorite re- 
tort of his, that he recurred to the subject. 

w You were surprised," he said, w at my saying 
that we got along without money or trade, but 
a moment's reflection will show that trade ex- 
isted and money was needed in your day simply 
because the business of production was left in 
private hands, and that, consequently, they are 
superfluous now." 

n I do not at once see how that follows, * I 
replied. w It is very simple," said Dr. Leete. 
"When innumerable, unrelated, and independ- 
ent persons produced the various things need- 
ful to life and comfort, endless exchanges be- 
tween individuals were requisite in order that 
they might supply themselves with what they 
desired. These exchanges constituted trade, 
and money was essential as their medium. 
But as soon as the nation became the sole pro- 
ducer of all sorts of commodities, there was 
no need of exchanges between individuals that 
they might get what they required. Every- 




LOOKING BACKWARD. ZI9 

thing was procurable from one source, and 
nothing could be procured anywhere else. A 
system of direct distribution from the national 
storehouses took the place of trade, and for 
this money was unnecessary." 

"How is this distribution mp.i.aged?" I 
asked. 

"On the simplest possible plan," replied Dr. 
Leete. . " A creiiit corresponding to his share of 
the annual product of the nation is given to 
every citizen on the public books at the begin- 
ing of each year, and a credit card issued him 
with which he procures at the public store- 
houses, found in every community, whatever 
he desires whenever he desires it. This ar- 
rangement you will see totally obviates the 
necessity for business transactions of any sort 
between individuals and consumers. Perhaps 
you would like to see what our credit-cards 
are like." 

" You observe, " he pursued as I was curious- 
ly examining the piece of pasteboard he gave 



X20 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

me, "that this card is issued for a certain num- 
ber of dollars. We have kept the old word, 
but not the substance. The term, as we use 
jt^answers to no real thing, but merely serves 
as an\a]Rebraical symbol for comparing the 
values of "products with one another. For 
this purpose they are all priced in dollars and 
cents, just as in your day. The value of what 
I procure on this card is checked o/T by the 
clerk, who pricks out of these tiers of squares 
the price of what I order. " 

* If you wanted to buy something of your 
neighbor, could you transfer part of your 
credit to him as consideration ?" I inquired. 

"In the first place," replied Dr. Leete, "our 
neighbors have nothing to sell us, but in any 
event our credit would not be transferable, 
being strictly personal. Before the nation 
could even think of honoring any such trans- 
fer as you speak of, it would be bound to 
inquire into all the circumstances of the trans- 
action, so as to be able to guarantee its.abao- 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 131 

lute equity. It would have been reason 
enough, had there been no other, for abolish 
ing money, that its possession was no indica- 
tion of rightful title to it. In the hands of the 
man who had stolen it or murdered for it, it 
was as good as in those which had earned it 

by industry. People nowadays interchange 

> — ■ — ' 

gifts and favo rs out of friendshi p, but buying 
and selling is considered absolutely incon- 
sistent with the mutual benevolence and dis- 
interestedness which should prevail between 
citizens and the sense of community of inter- 
est which supports our social system. Accord- 
ing to our ideas, buying and selling is essen- 
tially anti-social in all its tendencies. It is an 
education in self-seeking at the expense of 
others, and no society whose citizens are 
trained in such a school can possibly rise 
above a very low grade of civilization." 

n What if you have to spend more than your 
^ard in any one year? n I asked. 

"The provision is bo ample that we are 



122 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

more likely not to spend it all," replied Dr. 
Leete. "But if extraordinary expenses should 
(exhaust it, we can obtain a limited advance 
on the next year's credit, though this practice 
is not encouraged, and a heavy discount is 
charged to check it." 

* If you don't spend your allowance, I sup- 
pose it accumulates? " 

" That is also permitted to a certain extent, 
when a special outlay is anticipated. But 
unless notice to the contrary is given, it is pre- 
sumed that the citizen who does not fully 
expend his credit did not have occasion to do 
so, and the balance is turned into the general 
surplus." 

" Such a system does not encourage saving 
habits on the part of citizens," I said. 

"It is not intended to," was the reply. 
* The nation is rich, and does not wish the peo- 
ple to deprive themselves of any good thing. 
In your day, men were bound to lay up goods 
and money against coming failure of the 




LOOKING BACKWARD. X23 

means of support and for their children. This 
necessity made parsimony a virtue. But now 
it would have no such laudable object, and, 
having lost its utility, it has ceased to be 
regarded as a virtue. No man any more has 
any care for the morrow, either for himself or 
his children, for the nation guarantees the 
nurture, education, and comfortable main 
tenancc of every citizen, from the cradle to 
the grave." ■ •• ) r* * • y tf ' j 

"That is a sweeping guarantee I " I said. 
"What certainty can there be that the value 
of a man's labor will recompense the nation 
for its outlay on him ? On the whole, society 
may be able to support all its members, but 
some must earn less than enough for their sup- 
port, and others more; and that brings us 
back once more to the wages question, on 
which you have hitherto said nothing. It 
was at just this point, if you remember, that 
our talk ended last evening; and I say 
again, as I did then, that here I should tup- 



124 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

pose a national industrial system like yours 
would find its main difficulty. How, I ask 
once more, can you adjust satisfactorily the 
comparative wages or remuneration of the 
multitude of avocations, so unlike and so in- 
commensurable, which are necessary for the 
service of society? In our day the market 
rate determined the price of labor of all sorts, 
as well as of goods. The employer paid as 
little as he could, and the worker got as much. 
It was not a pretty system ethically, I admit ; 
but it did, at least, furnish us a rough and 
ready formula for settling a question which 
must be settled ten thousand times a day if 
the world was ever going to get forward. 
There seemed to us no other practicable way 
of doing it." 

w Yes," replied Dr. Leete, w it was the only 
practicable way under a system which made the 
interests of every individual antagonistic to 
thos e of e very other ; but it would have been 
a pity if humanity could never have devised 



LOOKING BACKWARD. X*5 

a better plan, for yours was simply the appli- 
cation to the mutual relations of men of the 
devil's maxim, 'Your necessity is my oppor- 
tunity.' The reward of any service depended 
not upon its difficulty, danger, or hardship, 
for .throughout the world it seems that the 
most perilous, severe, and repulsive labor was 
done by the worst paid classes; but solely 
upon the strait of those who needed the 
service." 

" All that is conceded," I said. "But, with 
all its defects, the plan of settling prices by the 
market rate was a practical plan ; and I cannot 
conceive what satisfactory substitute you can 
have devised for it. The government being 
the only possible employer, there is, of course, 
no labor market or market rate. Wages of 
all sorts must be arbitrarily fixed by the gov- 
ernment. I cannot imagine a more complex 
and delicate function than that must be, or 
one, however performed, more certain to breed 
universal dissatisfaction." 



126 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

* I beg your pardon," replied Dr. Letie, 
"but I think you exaggerate the difficulty. 
Suppose a board of fairly sensible men were 
charged with settling the wages for all sorts of 
trades under a system which, like ours, guar- 
anteed employment to all, while permitting the 
choice of avocations. Don't you see that, how- 
ever unsatisfactory the first adjustment might 
be, the mistakes would soon correct them- 
selves? The favored trades would have too 
many volunteers, and ' those discriminated 
against would lack them till the errors were 
set right. But this is aside from the purpose, 
for, though this plan would, I fancy, be prac- 
ticable enough, it is no part of our system." 

w How, then, do you regulate wages?" I 
once more asked. 

Dr. Leete did not reply till after several 
moments of meditative silence. "I know, of 
course," he finally said, " enough of the old 
order of things to understand just what you 
mean by that question; and yet the present 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 127 

order is so utterly different at this point that I 
am a little at loss how to answer you best. 
You ask me how we regulate wages : I can 
only reply that there is no idea in the modern 
social economy which at all corresponds with 
what was meant by wages in your day." 

"I suppose you mean that you have no 
money to pay wages in," said I. "But the 
credit given the worker at the government 
storehouse answers to his wages with us. 
How is the amount of the credit given respec- 
tively to the workers in different lines deter- 
mined ? By what title does the individual 
claim his particular share ? What is the basis 
of allotment ?" 

"His title," replied Dr. Leete, "is his hu- 
manity. The basis of his claim is the fact 
that he is a man." 

"The fact that he is a man!" I repeated, 
incredulously. "Do you possibly mean thai 
all nave the same share?" 

" Most assuredly." 



X28 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

The readers of this book never having prac- 
tically known any other arrangement, or per- 
haps very carefully considered the historical 
accounts of former epochs in which a very 
different system prevailed, cannot be expected 

to appreciate the stupor of amazement into 
which Dr. Leete's simple statement plunged 
me. 

"You see," he said, smiling, "that it is not 
merely that we have no money to pay wages 
in, but, as I said, we have nothing at all 
answering to your idea of wages." 

By this time I had pulled myself together 
sufficiently to voice some of the criticisms 
which, man of the nineteenth century as I was, 
came uppermost in my mind, upon this to me 
astounding arrangement. "Some men do 
twice the work of others I " I exclaimed. " Are 
the clever workmen content with a plan that 
ranks them with the indifferent?" 

" We leave no possible ground for any com- 
plaint of injustice," replied Dr. Leete, "by 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 12$ 

requiring precisely the same measure of ser- 
vice from all." 

"How can you do that, I should like to 
know, when no two men's powers are the 
3amc?" 

" Nothing could be simpler," was Dr. Leete's 
reply. "We require of each that he shall 
make the same effort ; that is, we demand 
of him the best service it is in his power to 

" 99 

give. 

" And supposing all do the best they can," 
I answered, "the amount of the product re- 
sulting is twice greater from one man than 
from another." 

"Very true," replied Dr. Lccte ; "but the 
amount of the resulting product has nothing 
whatever to do with the question, which is 
one of desert. Desert is a mor al qu estion, 
and the amount of the product a material 
quantity. It would be an extraordinary sort / 
of logic which should try to determine a moral 
question by a material standard. The amount 



T30 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

of the effort alone is pertinent to the question 
of desert. All men who do their best, do the 

same. A man's endowments, however god- 

like, merely fix the measure of his duty* The 
man of great endowments who does not do all 
he might, though he may do more than a man 
of small endowments who does his best, is 
deemed a less deserving worker than the 
latter, and dies a debtor to his fellows. The 
Creator sets men's tasks for them by the 
faculties he gives them ; we simply exact their 
fulfilment." 

w No doubt that is very fine philosophy," I 
said; "nevertheless it seems hard that the 
man who produces twice as much as an- 
other, even if both do their best, should have 
only the same share." 

"Does it, indeed, seem so to you?" re- 
sponded Dr. • Leete. w Now, do you know 
that seems very curious to me? The way it 
strikes people nowadays is, that a man who 
can produce twice as much as another with 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 131 

the same effort, instead of being rewarded 
for doing. so, ought to be punished if he does 
not do so. In the nineteenth century, when a 
horse pulled a heavier load than a goat, I 
suppose you rewarded him. Now, we should 
have whipped him soundly if he had not, on 
the ground that, being much stronger, he ought 
to. It is singular how ethical standards 
change." The doctor said this with such a 
twinkle in his eye that I was obliged to 
laugh. 

" I suppose," I said, " that the real reason 
that we rewarded men for their endowments, 
while we considered those of horses and goats 
merely as fixing the service to be severally 
required of them, was that the animals, not 
being reasoning beings, naturally did the best 
they could, whereas men could only be in- 
duced to do so by rewarding them according 
to the amount of their product. That brings 
me to ask why, unless human nature has 
mightily changed in a hundred years, you are 
not under the same necessity. 19 



132 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

"We are," replied Dr. Leete. "I don't 
think there has been any change in human 
nature in that respect since your day. It is 
still so constituted that special incentives in the 
form of prizes, and advantages to be gained, 
ate requi«iteTo"callout the best endeavors of 
the average man in any direction." 

"But what inducement," I asked, w can a 
man have to put forth his best endeavors 
when, however much or little he accomplishes, 
his income remains the same. High charac- 
ters may be moved by devotion to the common 
welfare under such a system, but does not the 
a\terage man tend to rest back on his oar, rea- 
soning that it is of no use to make a special 
effort, since the effort will not increase his 
income, nor its withholding diminish it." 

M Does it then really seem to you," answered 
my companion, " that human nature is insen- 
sible to any motives save fear of want and love 
of luxury, that you should expect security and 
equality of livelihood to leave them without 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 1$) 

possible incentives to effort? Your contempo 
raries did not really think so, though th* 
might fancy they did. When it was a quel 
tion of the grandest class of efforts, the nvV 
absolute self-devotion, they depended on quite 
other incentives. Not higher wages, but 
honor and the hope of men's gratitude, patriot- 
ism and the inspiration of duty, were the 
motives which they set before their soldiers 
when it was a question of dying for the nation, 
and never was there an age of the world when 
those motives did not call out what is best and 
noblest in men. And not only this, but when' 
you come to analyze the love of money which 
was the general impulse to effort in your day, 
you find that the dread of want and desire of 
luxury were but two of several motives which 
the pursuit of money represented ; the others, 
and with many the more influential, being 
desire of power, of social position, and reputa- 
tion for ability and success. So you see that 
though we have abolished poverty and the fear 



134 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

of it, and inordinate luxury with the hope 
of it, we have not touched the greater part 
of the motives which underlay the love of 
money in former times, or any of those which 
prompted the supremer sorts of effort. The 
coarser motives, which no longer move us, 
have been replaced by higher motives wholly 
unknown to the mere wage earners of 
your age. Now that industry of whatever 
sort is no longer self-service,^ but service of 
the nation, patriotism, passion for humanity, 
ImpeLthe^worker as in your day they did the 
joldier. The army of industry is an army, 
not alone by virtue of its perfect organization, 
but by reason also of the ardor of self-devotion 
which animates its members. 

" But as you used to supplement the motives 
of patriotism with the love of glory, in order 
to stimulate the valor of your soldiers, so do 
we. Based as our industrial system is on the 
principle of requiring the same unit of effort 
from every man, that is, the best he can do, 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 135 

you will see that the means by which we spur 
the workers to do their best must be a very 
essential part of our scheme. With us, dili- 
gence in the national service is the sole and 
certain way to public repute, social distinction, 
aud official power. The value of a man's ser- 
vices to society fixes his rank in it. Com- 
pared with the effect of our social arrange- 
ments in impelling men to be zealous in busi- 
ness, we deem the object-lessons of biting 
poverty and wanton luxury on which you 
depended a device as weak and uncertain as 
it was barbaric." 

" I should be extremely interested," I said, 
" to learn something of what these social ar- 
rangements are." 

"The scheme in its details," replied the doc- 
tor, w is of course very elaborate, for it under- 
lies the entire organization of our industrial 
army ; but a few words will give you a gen- 
eral idea of it." 

At this moment our talk was charmingly 



y 



136 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

interrupted by the emergence upon the aerial 
platform where we sat of Edith Lecte. She 
was dressed for the street, and had come to 
speak to her father about some commission 
she was to do for him. 

"By the way, Edith," he exclaimed, as she 
was about to leave us to ourselves, " I wonder 
if Mr. West would not be interested in visiting 
the store with you? I have been telling him 
something about our system of distribution, 
and perhaps he might like to see it in practical 
operation." 

"My daughter," he added, turning to me, 
* is an indefatigable shopper, and can tell you 
more about the stores than I can." 

The proposition was naturally very agree- 
able to me, and Edith being good enough to 
say that she should be glad to have my com 
pany, we left the house together. 




LOOKING BACKWARD. If] 



CHAPTER X. 

* TF I am going to explain our way of shop- 

■"■ ping to you," said my companion, as 
we walked along the street, "you must ex- 
plain your way to me. I have never been 
able to understand it from all I have read on 
the subject. For example, when you had 
such a vast number of shops, each with its 
different assortment, how could a lady ever 
settle upon any purchase till she had visited 
all the shops? For, until she had, she could 
not know what there was to choose from." 

" It was as you suppose ; that was the only 
way she could know," I replied. 

" Father calls me an indefatigable shopper, 
but I should soon be a very fatigued one if I 
had to do as they did," was Edith's laughing 
comment. 

"The loss of time in going from shop to 



138 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

shop was indeed a waste which the busy bit- 
terly complained of," I said ; " but as for the 
ladies of the idle class, though they com- 
plained also, I think the system was really a 
godsend by furnishing a device to kill time/' 

" But say there were a thousand shops in a 
city, hundreds, perhaps, of the same sort, how 
could even the idlest find time to make their 
rounds ? n 

"They really could not visit all, of course," 
I replied. " Those who did a great deal of 
buying, learned in time where they might ex- 
pect to find what they wanted. This class 
had made a science of the specialties of the 
shops, and bought at advantage, always get- 
ting the most and best for the least money. 
It required, however, long experience to ac- 
quire this knowledge. Those who were too 
busy, or bought too little to gain it, took their 
chances and were generally unfortunate, get- 
ting the least and worst for the most money. 
It was the merest chance if persons not ex- 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 1 39 

perienced in shopping„received .the -value_.of 
their money. " 

n But why did you put up with such a shock- 
ingly inconvenient arrangement when you saw 
its faults so plainly? " Edith asked me. 

"It was like all our social arrangements," 
I replied. " You can see their faults scarcely 
more plainly than we did, but we saw no 
remedy for them." 

"Here we are at the store of our ward," 
said Edith, as we turned in at the great portal 
of one of the magnificent public buildings I 
had observed in my morning walk. There 
was nothing in the exterior aspect of the edi- 
fice to suggest a store to a representative of 
the nineteenth century. There was no dis- 
play of goods in the great windows, or any 
device to advertise wares or attract custom. 
Nor was there any sort of sign or legend on 
the front of the building to indicate the char- 
acter of the business carried on there ; but in- 
stead, above the portal, standing out from the 



I40 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

front of the building, a majestic life-size group 
of statuary, the central figure of which was 
a female ideal of Plenty, with her cornucopia. 
Judging from the composition of the throng 
passing in and out, about the same proportion 
of the sexes among shoppers obtained as 
in the nineteenth century. As we entered, 
Edith said that there was one of these great 
distributing establishments in each ward of the 
city, so that no residence was more than 
five or ten minutes' walk from one of them. 
It was the first interior of a twentieth century 
public building that I had ever beheld, and 
the spectacle naturally impressed me deeply. 
I was in a vast hall full of light, received not 
alone from the windows on all sides, but rom 
the dome, the point of which was a hundred 
feet above. Beneath it, in the centre of :he 
hall, a magnificent fountain played, cooling 
the atmosphere to a delicious freshness with 
its spray. The walls and ceiling were fres- 
coed in mellow tints, calculated to soften with- 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 141 

out absorbing the light which flooded the 
interior. Around the fountain was a space 
occupied with chairs and sofas, on which 
many persons were seated conversing. Le- 
gends on the walls all about the hall indicated 
to what classes of commodities the counters 
below were devoted. Edith directed her steps 
towards one of these, where samples of muslin 
of a bewildering variety were displayed, and 
proceeded to inspect them. 

n Where is the clerk?" I asked, for there 
was no one behind the counter, and no one 
seemed coming to attend to the customer. 

"I have no need of the clerk yet," said 
Edith ; " I have not made my selection." 

"It was the principal business of clerks to 
help people to make their selections in my 
day," I replied. 

n What ! To tell people what they wanted ? " 

" Yes ; and oftener to induce them to buy 
what they didn't want." 

" But did not ladies find that very imperii- 



14* LOOKING BACKWARD. 

nent?" Edith asked, wonderingly. "What 
concern could it possibly be to the clerks 
whether people bought or not?* 

"It was their sole concern ," I answered. 
* They were hired for the purpose of getting 
rid of the goods, and were expected to do 
their utmost, short of the use of force, to com- 
pass that end." 

" Ah, yes! How stupid I am to forget \ n 
Said Edith. w The storekeeper and his clerks 
depended for their livelihood on selling the 
goods in your day. Of course that is all dif- 
ferent now. The goods are the nation's. 
They are here for those who want them, and 
it is the business of the clerks to wait on people 
and take their orders ; but it is not the interest 
of the clerk or the nation to dispose of a yard 
or a pound of anything to anybody who does 
not want it." She smiled as she added, " How 
exceedingly odd it must have seemed to have 
clerks trying to induce one to take what one 
dfti not want, or was doubtful about !" 




LOOKING BACKWARD. I43 

" But even a twentieth century clerk might 
make himself useful in giving you informa- 
tion about the goods, though he did not tease 
you to buy them," I suggested. 

"No," said Edith, "that is not the business 
of the clerk. These printed cards, for which 
the government authorities are responsible, 
give us all the information we can possibly 
need." 

I saw then that there was fastened to each 
sample a card containing in succinct form a 
complete statement of the make and material! 
of the goods and all its qualities, as well as 
price, leaving absolutely no point to hang a 
question on. 

"The clerk has, then, nothing to say aboui 
the goods he sells ? " I said. 

" Nothing at all. It is not necessary that he 
should know or profess to know anything 
about them. Courtesy and accuracy in taking 
orders are all that are required of him/ 9 

"What a prodigious amount of lying that 
simple arrangement saves I " I ejaculated. 



144 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

" Do you mean that all the clerks misrepre- 
sented their goods in your day?" Edith asked. 

"God forbid that I should say sol" I re- 
plied, " for there were many who did not, and 
they were entitled to especial credit, for when 
one's livelihood and that of his wife and babies 
depended on the amount of goods he could 
dispose of, the temptation to deceive the cus- 
tomer, or let him deceive himself — was well- 
nigh overwhelming. But, Miss Leete, I am 
distracting you from your task with my talk." 

"Not at all. I have made my selections." 
With that she touched a button, and in a 
moment a clerk appeared. He took down her 
order on a tablet with a pencil which made 
two copies, of which he gave one to her, and 
enclosing the counterpart in a small recep- 
tacle, dropped it into a transmitting tube. 

"The duplicate of the order," said Edith 
as she turned away from the counter, after the 
clerk had punched the value of her purchase 
out of the credit card she gave him, " is given 




LOOKING BACKWARD. I45 

to the purchaser, so that any mistakes in fill- 
ing it can be easily traced and rectified.* 9 

"You were very quick about your selec- 
tions," I said. "May I ask how you knew 
that you might not have found something to 
suit you better in some of the other stores? 
But probably you are required to buy in your 
own district/' 

"Oh, no," she replied. "We buy where 
we please, though naturally most often near 
home. But I should have gained nothing by 
visiting other stores. The assortment in all is 
e xactly the same, representing as it does in 
each case samples of all the varieties pro- 
duced or imported by the United States. 
That is why one can decide quickly, and 
uever need visit two stores." 

"And is this merely a sample store? I see 
no clerks cutting off goods or marking bun- 
dles." 

" All our stores are sample stores, except as 
to a few classes of articles. The goods, with 



/. 



I46 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

these exceptions, are all at the great central 
warehouse of the city, to which they are 
shipped directly from the producers. We 
order from the sample and the printed state* 
ment of texture, make and qualities. The 
orders are sent to the warehouse, and the 
goods distributed from there." 

"That must be a tremendous saving ol 
handling," I said. " By our system, the man- 
ufacturer sold to the wholesaler, the whole- 
saler to the retailer, and the retailer to the 
consumer, and the goods had to be handled 
each time. You avoid one handling of the 
goods, and eliminate the retailer altogether, 
with his big profit and the army of clerks it 
goes to support. Why, Miss Leete, this store 
is merely the order department of a wholesale 
house, with no more than a wholesaler's com- 
plement of clerks. Under our system of 
Handling the goods, persuading the customer 
to buy them, cutting them off, and packing 
them, ten clerks would not do what one does 
here. The saying must be enormous." 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 147 

"I suppose so," said Edith, "but of course 
we have never known any other way. But, 
Mr. West, you must not fail to ask father to 
take you to the central warehouse some day, 
where they receive the orders from the different 
sample houses all over the city and parcel out 
and send the goods to their destinations. He 
took me there not long ago, and it was a won- 
derful sight. The system is certainly perfect ; 
for example, over yonder in that sort of cage 
is the despatching clerk. The orders, as they 
are taken by the different departments in the 
store, are sent by transmitters to him. His as- 
sistants sort them and enclose each class in a 
carrier-box by itself. The despatching clerk 
has a dozen pneumatic transmitters before 
him answering to the general classes of goods, 
each communicating with the corresponding 
department at the warehouse. He drops the 
box of orders into the tube it calls for and in a 
few moments later it drops on the proper desk in 
the warehouse, together with all the orders ot 



148 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

the same sort from the other sample stoic*. 
The orders are read off, recorded, and sent to 
be filled, like lightning. The filling I thought 
the most interesting part. Bales of cloth are 
placed on spindles and turned by machinery, 
and the cutter, who also has a machine, works 
right through one bale after another till ex- 
hausted, when another man takes his place ; 
and it is the same with those who fill the orders 
in any other staple. The packages are then 
delivered by larger tubes to the city districts, 
and thence distributed to the houses. You 
may understand how quickly it is all done 
when I tell you that my order will probably 
be at home sooner than I could have carried it 
from here." 

<f How do you manage in the thinly settled 
rural districts?" I asked. 

n The system is the same," Edith explained ; 
"the village sample shops are connected by 
transmitters with the central county warehouse, 
which maybe twenty miles away. The trans- 




LOOKING BACKWARD. X49 

mission is so swift, though, that the time lost on 
the way is trifling. But, to save expense, in 
many counties one set of tubes connect several 
villages with the warehouse, and then there is 
time lost waiting for one another* Some- 
times it is two or three hours before goods 
ordered are received. It was so where I was 
staying last summer and I found it quite incon- 
venient." • 

w There must be many other respects also, no 
doubt, in which the country stores are inferior 
to the city stores," I suggested. 

"No," Edith answered, "they are otherwise 
precisely as good. The sample shop of the 
smallest village, just like this one, gives you 
your choice of all the varieties of goods 
the nation has, for the county warehouse 
draws on the same source as the city ware- 
house." 

As we walked home I commented on 



• I an Informed since the above is In type that thla lack of perfection 
la Um distributing aenrice of aone of the country districts is to bt 
resaedied, and that soon rrery village will have its own set of tubes. 



X50 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

the great variety in the size and cost of the 
houses. " How is it," I asked, " that this dif- 
ference is consistent with the fact that all 
citizens have the same income?" 

"Because," Edith explained, w although the 
income is the same, personal taste determines 
how the individual shall spend it. Some like 
fine horses ; others, like myself, prefer pretty 
clothes; and still others want an elaborate 
table. The rents which the nation receives 
for these houses vary, according to size, ele- 
gance, and location, so that everybody can 
find something to suit. The larger houses are 
usually occupied by large families, in which 
there are several to contribute to the rent; 
while small families, like ours, find smaller 
houses more convenient and economical. It 
is a matter of taste and convenience wholly. 
I have read that in old times people often kept 
up establishments and did other things which 
they could not afford for ostentation, to make 
people think them richer than they were. Was 
it really so, Mr. West?" 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 15 1 

n I shall have to admit that it was," 1 replied. 

" Well , you see, it could not be so nowadays , 
for everybody's income is known, and it is 
known that what is spent one way must be 
saved another." • * 



152 LOOKING BACKWARD. 



CHAPTER XI. 

XT THEN we arrived home Dr. Leete had 
* * not yet returned, and Mrs. Leete was 
not visible. "Are you fond of music, Mr. 
West?" Edith asked. 

I assured her that it was half of life, accord- 
ing to my notion. 

" I ought to apologize for inquiring," she said. 
" It is not a question that we ask one another 
nowadays; but I have read that in your day, 
even among the cultured class, there were 
some who did not care for music." 

"You must remember, in excuse," I said, 
"that we had some rather absurd kinds of 
music." 

" Yes," she said, w I know that ; I am afraid 
I should not have fancied it all myself. Would 
you like to hear some of ours now, Mr. 
West?- 




LOOKING BACKWARD. X$3 

" Nothing would delight me so much as to 
listen to you," I said. 

"Tomcl" she exclaimed, laughing. n Did 
you think I was going to play or sing to you ? n 

" I hoped so, certainly," I replied. 

Seeing that I was a little abashed, she sub- 
dued her merriment and explained. w Of 
course, we all sing nowadays as a matter of 
course in the training of the voice, and some 
learn to play instruments for their private 
amusement; but the professional music is so 
much grander and more perfect than any 
performance of ours, and so easily commanded 
when we wish to hear it, that we don't think 
of calling our singing or playing music at all. 
All the really fine singers and players aife in 
the musical service, and the rest of us hold 
our peace for the main part. But would you 
really like to hear some music?" 

I assured her once more that I would. 

"Come, then, into the music room," she 
said, and I followed her into an apartment 



*54 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 



finished, without hangings, in wood, with a 
floor of polished wood. I was prepared for 
new devices in musical instruments, but I saw 
nothing in the room which by any stretch of 
imagination could be conceived as such. It 
was evident that my puzzled appearance was 
affording intense amusement to Edith. 

" Please look at to-day's music/' she said, 
handing me a card, "and tell me what you 
would prefer. It is now five o'clock, you will 
remember. " 

The card bore the date "September 12, 
2000," and contained the largest programme 
of music I had ever seen. It was as various 
as it was long, including a most extraordinary 
range of vocal and instrumental solos, duets, 
quartettes, and various orchestral combinations. 
I remained bewildered by the prodigious list 
until Edith's pink finger-tip indicated a par- 
ticular section of it, where several selections 
were bracketed, with the words "5 p.m." 
against them ; then I observed that thip pro- 




LOOKING BACKWARD. X55 

digious programme was an all day one, 
divided into twenty-four sections answering to 
the hours. There were but a few pieces of 
music in the "5 p.m." section, and I indicated 
an organ piece as my preference. 

"I am so glad you like the organ," said she. 
" I think there is scarcely any music that suits 
my mood oftener." 

She made me sit down comfortably, and 
crossing the room, so far as I could see, merely 
touched one or two screws, and at once the 
room was filled with the music of a grand 
organ anthem ; filled, not flooded, for, by some 
means, the volume of melody had been per- 
fectly graduate to the size of the apartment. 
I listened, scarcely breathing, to the close. 
Such music, so perfectly rendered, I had never 
expected to hear. 

" Grand ! " I cried, as the last great wave of 
sound broke and ebbed away into silence* 
" Bach must be at the keys of that organ ; 
but where is the organ ? " 



156 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

"Wait a moment, please," said Edith; "1 
want to have you listen to this waltz before 
you ask any questions. I think it is perfectly 
charming," and as she spoke the sound of 
violins filled the room with the witchery of a 
summer night. When this had also ceased, 
she said : w There is nothing in the least mys- 
terious about the music, as you seem to 
imagine. It is not made by fairies or genii, 
but by good, honest, and exceedingly clever 
human hands. We have simply carried the 
idea of labor-saving by co-operation into 
our musical service as into everything else. 
There are a number of music rooms in the 
city, perfectly adapted acoustically to the dif- 
ferent sorts of music. These halls are con- 
nected by telephone with all the houses of the 
city whose people care to pay the small fee, 
' and there are none, you may be sure, who do 
not. The corps of musicians attached to each 
hall is so large that, although no individual 
performer, or group of performers, has more 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 157 

than a brief part, each day's programme lasts 
through the twenty-four hours. There are 
on that card for to-day, as you will see if you 
observe closely, distinct programmes of four 
of these concerts, each of a different order of 
music from the others, being now simul- 
taneously performed, and any one of the 
four pieces now going on that you prefer, you 
can hear by merely pressing the button which 

will connect your house wire with the hall 

— — >0 

where it is being rendered. The programmes l< ^ / jo 
are so co-ordinated that the pieces at any one 
time simultaneously proceeding in the different 
halls, usually ofTer a choice, not only between 
instrumental and vocal, and between different 
sorts of instruments ; but also between different 
motives from grave to gay, so that all tastes 
and moods can be suited." 

w It appears to me, Miss Leete," I said, "that 
if we could have devised an arrangement for 
providing everybody with music in their 
homes, perfect ir. quality, unlimited in 



158 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

quantity, suited to every mood, and beginning 
and ceasing at will, we should have considered 
the limit of human felicity already attained, and 
ceased to strive for further improvements." 

"I am sure I never could imagine how 
those among you who depended at all on 
music managed to endure the old fashioned 
system for providing it," replied Edith. w Music 
really worth hearing must have been, I sup- 
pose, wholly out of the reach of the masses, 
and attainable by the most favored only oc- 
casionally at great trouble, prodigious expense, 
and then for brief periods, arbitrarily fixed bj 
somebody else and in connection with all sorts 
of undesirable circumstances. Your concerts, 
for instance, and operas ! How perfectly ex- 
asperating it must have been, for the sake of a 
piece or two of music that suited you, to have 
to sit for hours listening to what you did not 
care for ! Now, at a dinner one can skip the 
courses one does not care Tor. Who would 
rvrr dine, however hungry, if required to 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 159 

eat everything brought on the table? and I 
am sure one's hearing is quite as sensitive as 
one's taste. I suppose it was these difficulties 
in the way of commanding really good music 
which made you endure so much playing and 
singing in your homes by people who had only 
the rudiments of the art." 

"Yes," I replied, "it was that sort of music 
or none for most of us." 

" Ah, well," Edith sighed, "when one really 
considers, it is not so strange that people in 
those days so generally did not care for music. 
I daresay I should have detested it, too." 

"Did I understand you rightly," I inquired, 
"that this musical programme covers the entire 
twenty-four hours ? It seems to on this card, 
certainly ; but who is there to listen to music 
between say midnight and morning?" 

"Oh, many," Edith replied. "Our people 
keep all hours ; but if the music were provided 
from midnight to morning for no others, it still 
would be for the sleepless, the sick, and the 



l6o LOOKING BACKWARD. 

dying. All our bed-chambers have a telephone 
attachment at the head of the bed by which 
any person who may be sleepless can command 
music at pleasure, of the sort suited to the 
mood." 

" Is there such an arrangement in the room 
assigned to me ? " 

" Why, certainly ; and how stupid, how very 
stupid, of me not to think to tell you of that 
last night ! Father will show you about the 
adjustment before you go to bed to-night, how- 
ever ; and with the receiver at your ear, I am 
quite sure you will be able to snap your fingers 
at all sorts of uncanny feelings if they trouble 
you again." 

That evening Dr. Leete asked us about our 
visit to the store, and in the course of the 
desultory comparison of the ways of the 
nineteenth century and the twentieth, which 
followed, something raised the question of 
inheritance. " I suppose," I said, w the inhei 
itance ot property is not now allowed." 



LOOKING BACKWARD. l6l 

n On the contrary , w replied Dr. Leete, n there 
is no interference with it. In fact, you will 
find, Mr. West, as you come to know us, that 
there is far less interference of any sort with 
personal liberty nowadays than you were 
accustomed to. We require, indeed, by law 
that every man shall serve the nation for a fixed 
period, instead of leaving him his choice, as 
you did, between working, stealing, or starv- 
ing. With the exception of this fundamental 
law, which is, indeed, merely a codification of 
the law of nature — the edict of Eden — by 
which it is made equal in its pressure on men, 
our system depends in no parti cul ar upon 
legislation, but is entirely voluntary, the logi- 
cal outcome of the operation of human nature 
under rational conditions. This question of 
inheritance illustrates just that point. The 
fact that the nation is the sole capitalist and 
land-owner, of course restricts the individual's 
possessions to his annual credit, and what per- 
sonal and household belongings he may have 



Xfa LOOKING BACKWARD. 

procured with it. His credit, like an annuity 
in your day, ceases on his death, with the 
allowance of a fixed sum for funeral expenses. 
His other possessions he leaves as he pleases." 

* What is to prevent, in course of time, such 
accumulations of valuable goods and chattels 
in the hands of individuals as might seriously 
interfere with equality in the circumstances of 
citizens?" I asked. 

"That matter arranges itself very simply,* 
was the reply. w Under the present organiza- 
tion of society, accumulations of personal 
property are merely burdensome the moment 
they exceed what adds to the real comfort. 
In your day, if a man had a house crammed 
full with gold and silver plate, rare China, 
expensive furniture, and such things, he was 
considered rich, for these things represented 
money, and could at any time be turned into it. 
Nowadays a man whom the legacies of a hun- 
dred relatives, simultaneously dying, should 
place in a similar position, would be considered 




LOOKING BACKWARD. l6$ 

very unlucky. The articles, not being salable, 
would be of no value to him except for their 
actual use or the enjoyment of their beauty. 
On the other hand, his income remaining the 
same, he would have to deplete his credit to 
hire houses to store the goods in, and still 
further to pay for the service of those who took 
care of them. You may be very sure that such 
a man would lose no time in scattering among 
his friends possessions which only made him 
the poorer, and that none of those friends 
would accept more of them than they could 
easily spare room for and time to attend to. 
You see, then, that to prohibit the inheritance 
of personal property with a view to prevent 
great accumulations, would be a superfluous 
precaution for the nation. The individual citi- 
zen can be trusted to see that he is not over- 
burdened. So careful is he in this respect, 
that the relatives usually waive claim to most 
.€ the effects of deceased friends, reserving 
only particular objects. The nation takes 



164 LbOKING BACKWARD. 

m 

charge of the resigned chattels, and turns 
such as are of value into the common stock 
once more." 

"You spoke of paying for service to take 
care of your houses," said I ; * that suggests a 
question I have several times been on the point 
of asking. How have you disposed of the 
problem of domestic service ? Who are willing 
to be domestic servants in a community where 
all are social equals? Our ladies found it hard 
enough to find such even when there was little 
pretence of social equality." 

"It is precisely because we are all social 
equals whose equality nothing can compromise, 
and because service is honorable in a society 
whose fundamental principle is that all in turn 
shall serve the rest, that we could easily pro- 
vide a corps of domestic servants such as you 
never dreamed of, if we needed them," replied 
Dr. Leete. " But we do not need them." 

* Who does your house-work, then ? " I asked. 

" There is none to do," said Mrs. Leete, to 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 1 65 

whom I had addressed this question. " Our 
washing is all done at public laundries at ex- 
cessively cheap rates, and our cooking at 
public kitchens. The making and repairing of V u 
all we wear are done outside in public shops. 
Electricity, of course, takes the place of all 
fires and lighting. We choose houses no 
larger than we need, and furnish them so as 
to involve the minimum of trouble to keep 
them in order. We have no use for domestic 
servants." 

"The fact," said Dr. Leete, "that you 
had in the poorer classes a boundless supply 
of serfs on whom you could impose all sorts of 
painful and disagreeable tasks, made you in- 
different to devices to avoid the necessity for 
them. But now that we all have to do in turn 
whatever work is done for society, every in- 
dividual in the nation has the same interest, 
said a personal one, in devices for lightening 
the burden. This fact has given a prodigious 
impulse to labor-saving inventions in all sorts 



1 66 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

of industry! of which the combination of the 
maximum of comfort and minimum of trouble 
in household arrangements was one of the 
earliest results." 

" In case of special emergencies in the house- 
hold," pursued Dr. Leete, " such as extensive 
cleaning or renovation, or sickness in the fam- 
ily, we can always secure assistance from the 
industrial force." 

" But how do you recompense these assist- 
ants, since you have no money?" 

"We do not pay them, of course, but the 
nation for them. Their services can be 
obtained by application at the proper bureau, 
and their value is pricked off the credit card 
of the applicant." 

" What a paradise for womankind the world 
must be now!" I exclaimed. "In my day, 
even wealth and unlimited servants did not 
enfranchise their possessors from household 
cares, while the women of the merely well-to-do 
and poorer classes lived and died martyrs to 
them.* 




LOOKING BACKWARD. I<>7 

"Yes," said Mrs. Leete, " I have read some* 
thing of that; enough to convince me that, 
badly off as the men, too, were in your day, 
they were more fortunate than their mothers 
and wives." 

"The broad shoulders of the nation," said 
Dr. Leete, "bear now like a feather the bur- 
den that broke the backs of the women of 
your day. Their misery came, with all your 
other miseries, from that incapacity for co- 
operation which followed from the individual- 
ism on which your social system was founded, 
from your inability to perceive that you could 
make ten times more profit out of your fellow 
men by uniting with them than by contending 
vith them. The wonder is, not that you did 
not live more comfortably, but that you were 
able to live together at all, who were all con- 
fessedly bent on making one another your ser- 
vants, and securing possession of one another's 
goods." 

" There, there, father, if you are so vehe- 






l68 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

ment, Mr. West will think you are scolding 
him," laughingly interposed Edith. 

"When you want a doctor," I asked, "do 
you simply apply to the proper bureau and 
take any one that may be sent?" 

* That rule would not work well in the case 
of physicians," replied Dr. Leete. "The 
good a physician can do a patient depends 
largely on his acquaintance with his constitu- 
tional tendencies and condition. The parent 
must be able, therefore, to call in a particular 
doctor, and he does so, just as patients did in 
your day. The only difference is that, instead 
of collecting his fee for himself, the doctor col- 
lects it for the nation by pricking off the 
amount, according to a regular scale for medi- 
cal attendance, from the patient's credit card." 

w I can imagine," I said, w that if the fee is 
always the same, and a doctor may not turn 
away patients, as I suppose he may, the 
good doctors are called constantly and the 
poor doctors left in idleness." 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 169 

" In the first place, if you will overlook the 
apparent conceit of the remark from a retired 
physician , w replied Dr. Leete, with a smile, 
"we have no poor doctors. Anybody who 
pleases to get a little smattering of medical 
terms is not now at liberty to practice on the 
bodies of citizens, as in your day. None but 
students who have passed the severe tests of 
the schools, and clearly proved their vocation, 
are permitted to practice. Then, too, you will 
observe that there is nowadays no attempt of 
doctors to build up their practice at the expense 
of other doctors. There would be no motive 
for that. For the rest, the doctor has to ren- 
der regular reports of his work to the medical 
bureau, and if he is not reasonably well 
employed, work is found for him.* 



170 LOOKING BACKWARD. 



CHAPTER XII. 

'T^HE questions which I needed to ask before 
■*■ I could acquire even an outline acquaint- 
ance with the institutions of the twentieth cen- 
tury being endless, and Dr. Leete's good-nature 
. appearing equally so, we sat up talking for 
several hours after the ladies left us. Reminding 
my host of the point at which our talk had broken 
off that morning, I expressed my curiosity to 
learn how the organization of the industrial 
army was made to afford a sufficient stimulus 
to diligence in the lack of any anxiety on the 
worker's part as to his livelihood. 

"You must understand in the first place," 
replied the doctor, w that the supply of incen- 
tives to effort is but one of the objects sough; 
in the organization we have adopted for the 
army. The other, and equally important, is 
to secure for the file-leaders and captains of the 




LOOKING BACKWARD. Ifl 

force and the great officers of the nation, men 
of proven abilities, who are pledged by their 
own careers to hold their followers up to their 
highest standard of performance and permit no 
lagging. With a view to these two ends, the 
whole body of members of the industrial army 
is divided into four general classes. First, the 
unclassified grade, of common laborers , as- » 
signed to any sort of work, usually the coarser 

kinds. To this all recruits during their first three 
yean belong. Second, the apprentices, as the ^ 
men arc called in the first year after passing from 
the unclassified grade, while they are mastering 
the first elements of their chosen avocations. 
Third, the main body of the f ull workers , 
being men between twenty-five and forty-five. 
Fourth, t he officers, from the lowest who have 
charge of men to the highest. These four 
classes are all under a different form of dis- 
cipline. The unclassified workers, doing mis- 
cellaneous work, cannot of course be so rigidly 
graded as later. They are supposed to be in 



172 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

a sort of school, learning industrial habits. 
Nevertheless they make their individual rec- 
ords, and excellence receives distinction and 
helps in the after career, something as academic 
standing added to the prestige of men in your 
day. The year of apprenticeship follows. 
The apprentice is given the first quarter of it 
to learn the rudiments of his avocation, but he 
is marked on the last three quarters with a 
view to determine which grade among the 
workers he shall be enrolled in on becoming a 
full workman. It may seem strange that the 
term of apprenticeship should be the same in 
all trades, but this is done for the sake of 
uniformity in the system, and practically works 
precisely as if the term of apprenticeship varied 
according to the difficulty of acquiring the 
trade. For, in the trades in which one cannot 
become proficient in a year, the result is that 
the apprentice falls into the lower grades of 
the full workmen, and works upward as he 
grows in skill. This is indeed what ordinarily 



LOOKING BACKWARD. *73 

happens in most trades. The full workmen 
are divided into three grades, according to 
efficiency, and each grade into a first and 
second class, so that there are in all six classes, 
into which the men fall according to their 
ability. 

To facilitate the testing of efficiency, all in- 
dustrial work, whenever by any means, and 
even at some inconvenience, it is possible, is 
conducted by piece-work, and if this is abso- 
lutely out of the question, the best possible 
substitute for determining ability is adopted. 
The men are regraded yearly, so that merit 
never need wait long to rise, nor can any rest 
on past achievements, unless they would drop 
into a lower rank. The results of each annual 
regrading, giving the standing of every man in 



the army, arc gazet ted in the public prints. 

n Apart from the grand incentive to endeavor 
afforded by the fact that the high places in the 
nation arc open only to the highest class men, 
various incitements of a minor, but perhaps 



174 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

equally effective, sort are provided in the form 
of special privileges and immunities in the way 
of discipline, which the superior class men 
enjoy. These, while not in the aggregate 
important, have the effect of keeping con- 
stantly before every man's mind the desirability 
of attaining the grade next above his own. 

" It is obviously important that not only the 
good but also the indifferent and poor work' 
men should be able to cherish the ambition of 
rising. Indeed, the number of the latter being 
so much greater, it is even more essential that 
the ranking system should not operate to dis- 
courage them than - that it should stimulate 
the others. It is to this end that the grades 
are divided into classes. The classes being 
numerically equal, there is not at any time, 
counting out the officers and the unclassified 
and apprentice grades, over one-eighth of the 
industrial army in the lowest class, and most 
of this number are recent apprentices, all of 
whom expect to rise. Still further to encour- 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 1 75 

age* those of no great talents to do their best, 
a man who, after attaining a higher grade, 
falls back into a lower, does not lose the fruit 
of his effort, but retains, as a sort of brevet, 
his former rank. The result is that those under 
our ranking system who fail to win any prize, 
by way of solace to their pride, remaining 
during the entire term of service in the lowest 
class, are but a trifling fraction of the indus- 
trial army, and likely to be as deficient in sen- 
sibility to their position as in ability to bet- 
ter it. 

" It is not even necessary that a worker should 
win promotion to a higher grade to have at 
least a taste of glory. While promotion 
requires a general excellence of record as a 
worker, honorable mention and various sorts 
of distinction are awarded for excellence less 
than sufficient for promotion, and also for 
special feats and single performances in the 
various industries. It is intended that no form 
of merit shall wholly fail of recognition. 



176 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

"As for actual neglect of work, positively bad 
work, or other overt remissness on the part of 
men incapable of generous motives, the disci- 
pline of the industrial army is far too strict to 
allow much of that. A man able to do duty, 
and persistently refusing, is cut off from all 
human society. 

"The lowest grade of the officers of the indus- 
trial army, that of assistant foremen or lieu- 
tenants, is appointed out of men who have 
held their place for two years in the first class 
of the first grade. Where this leaves too large 
a range of choice, only the first group of this 
class are eligible. No one thus conies to the 
point of commanding men until he is about 
thirty years old. After a man becomes an 
officer, his rating, of course, no longer depends 
on the efficiency of his own work, but on that 
of his men. The foremen are appointed from 
among the assistant foremen, by the same 
exercise of discretion, limited to a small eligible 
class. In the appointments to the still higher 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 177 



• % ' s. 



grades another principle is introduced, which 
it would take too much time to explain now. 

w Of course such a system of grading as I 
have described would have been impracticable 
applied to the small industrial concerns of your 
day, in some of which there were hardly 
enough employees to have left one apiece for 
the classes. You must remember that, under 
the national organization of labor, all indus- 
tries are carried on by great bodies of men, a 
hundred of your farms or shops being com- 
bined as one. The superintendent, with us, is 
like a colonel, or even a general, in one of 
your armies. 

"And now, Mr. West, I will leave it to you, 
on the bare outline of its features which I 
have given, if those who need special incen- 
tives to do their best are likely to lack them 
under our system." 

I replied that it seemed to me the incentives 
offered were, if any objections were to be 
made, too strong; that the pace set for the 



178 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

young men was too hot, and such, indeed, I 
would add with deference, still remains my 
opinion, now that by longer residence among 
you I have become better acquainted with the 
whole subject. 

Dr. Leete, however, desired me to reflect, 
and I am ready to say that it is perhaps a 
sufficient reply to my objection, that the work- 
er's livelihood is in no way dependent on his 
ranking, and anxiety for that never embitters 
his disappointments ; that the working hours 
are short, the vacations regular, and that all 
emulation ceases at forty-five, with the attain- 
ment of middle life. 

w There are two or three other points I ought 
to refer to," he added, w to prevent your getting 
mistaken impressions. In the first place, you 
must understand that this system of prefer- 
ment given the more efficient workers over the 
less so, in no way contravenes the funda- 
mental idea of our social system, that all who 
do their best are equally deserving, whether 



juUMllfa 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 1 79 

that best be great or small. I have shown 
that the system is arranged to encourage 
the weaker as well as the stronger with the 
hope of rising, while the fact that the stronger 
nrc selected for the leaders is in no way a 
reflection upon the weaker, but in the interest 
of the common weal. 

w Do not imagine, either, because emulation 
is given free play as an incentive under our 
system, that wc deem it a motive likely to 
appeal to the nobler sort of men, or worthy of 
them. Such as these find their motives within, 
not without, and measure their duty by their 
own endowments, not by those of others. So 
long as their achievement is proportioned to 
their powers, they would consider it prepos- 
terous to expect praise or blame because it 
chanced to be great or small. To such na- 
tures emulation appears philosophically absurd, 
and despicable in a moral aspect by its substitu- 
tion of envy for admiration, and exultation for 
regret, in one's attitude toward the successes 
and the failures of others. 



l8o LOOKING BACKWARD. 

"But all men, even in the last year of the 
twentieth century, are not of this high order, 
and the incentives to endeavor requisite for 
those who are not, must be of a sort adapted 
to their inferior natures. For these, then, 
emulation of the keenest edge is provided as 
a constant spur. Those who need this motive 
will feel it. Those who are above its influ- 
ence do not need it. 

"I should not fail to mention," resumed the 
doctor, "that for those too deficient in mental 
or bodily strength to be fairly graded with the 
main body of workers, we have a separate 
grade, unconnected with the others, — a sort 
of invalid corps, the members of which are 
provided with a light class of tasks fitted to 
their strength. All our sick in mind or body, 
all our deaf and dumb, and lame and blind 
and crippled, and even our insane, belong to 
this invalid corps, and bear its insignia. The 
strongest often do nearly a man's work, the 
feeblest, of course, nothing; but none who can 



LOOKING BACKWARD. X«I 

do anything are willing quite to gi\e up. In 
their lucid intervals, even cur insane are eager 
to do w'*al they can." 

"T'jat is a pretty idea of the invalid corps," 
I said. w Even a barbarian from the nineteenth 
century can appreciate that. It is a very 
graceful way of disguising charity, and must 
be very grateful to the feelings of its recip- 
ients." 

" Charity ! " repeated Dr. Leetc. n Did you 
suppose that we consider the incapable class 
we are talking of objects of charity?" 

" Why, naturally," I said, "inasmuch as they 
are incapable of self-support.'' 

But here the doctor took me up quickly. 

"Who is capable of self-support?" he de- 
manded. "There is no such thing in a 
civilized society as self-support. In a state 
of society so barbarous as not even to know 
family co-operation, each individual may pos- 
sibly support himself, though even then for a 
part of his life only ; but from the moment that 



l82 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

men begin to live together, and constitute even 
the rudest sort of society, self-support becomes 
impossible. As men grow more civilized, and 
the subdivision of occupations and services is 
carried out, a complex mutual dependence 
becomes the universal rule. Every man, how- 
ever solitary may seem his occupation, is *- 
member of a vast industrial partnership, as 
large as the nation, as large as humanity. The 
necessity of mutual dependence should imply 
the duty and guarantee of mutual support; 
and that it did not in your day, constituted 
the essential cruelty and unreason of your 
system." 

"That may all be so," I replied, "but it does 
not touch the case of those who are unable to 
contribute anything to the product of industry. " 

w Surely, I told you this morning, at least I 
thought I did," replied Dr. Leete, "that the 
right of a man to maintenance at the nation's 
table depends on the fact that he is a man, 
and not on the amount of health and strength 
he may have, so long as he does his best." 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 183 

"You said so," I answered, "but I supposed 
the rule applied only to the workers of differ- 
ent ability. Does it also hold of those who 
can do nothing at all?" 

" Are they not also men ? " 

" I am to understand, then, that the lame, the* 
blind, the sick and the impotent, are as well 
off as (he most efficient, and have the same 



income r 



.?" 



ff T| 



Certainly," was the reply. 
The idea of charity on such a scale," I 
answered, " would have made our most enthusi- 
astic philanthropists gasp." 

" If you had a sick brother at home," replied 
Dr. Lcete, "unable to work, would you feed 
him on less dainty food, and lodge and clothe 
him more poorly, than yourself? More likely 
far, you would give him the preference ; nor 
would you think of calling it charity. Would 
not the word, in that connection, fill you with 
indignation? " 

"Of course," I replied; "but the cases arc 



184 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

not parallel. There is a sense, no doubt, in 
which all men are brothers ; but this general 
sort of brotherhood is not to be compared, 
except for rhetorical purposes, to the brother- 
hood of blood, either as to its sentiment or its 
obligations. " 

a There speaks the nineteenth century ! " ex- 
claimed Dr. Leete. "Ah, Mr. West, there is 
no doubt as to the length of time that you 
slept. If I were to give you, in one sentence, 
a key to what may seem the mysteries of our 
civilization as compared with that of your age, 
I should say that it is the fact that the solidarity 
of the race and the brotherhood of man, which 
to you were but fine phrases, are, to our think- 
ing and feeling, ties as real and as vital as 
physical fraternity. 

"But even setting that consideration aside, I 
do not see why it so surprises you that those 
who cannot work are conceded the full right 
to live on the produce of those who can. Even 
in your day, .the duty of military service fo/ 



LOCKING BACKWARD. 185 

(he protection of the nation, to which our indus- 
trial service corresponds, while obligatory on 
those able to discharge it, did not operate to 
deprive of the privileges of citizenship those 
who were unable. They stayed at home, and 
were protected by those who fought, and no- 
body questioned their right to be, or thought 
less of them. So, now, the requirement of 
industrial service from those able to render it 
does not operate to deprive of the privileges 
of citizenship, which now implies the citizen's 
maintenance, him who cannot work. The 
worker is not a citizen because he works, but / 
works because he is a citizen. As you recog- 
nized the duty of the strong to fight for the 
weak, we, now that fighting is gone by, recog- 
nize his duty to work for him. 

"A solution which leaves an unaccounted 
for residuum is no solution at all ; and our 
solution of the problem of human society 
ivould have been none at all had it left the 
lame, the sick, and the blind outside with the 



l86 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

beasts, to fare as they might. Better far 
have left the strong and well unprovided 
for than these burdened ones, toward whom 
every heart must yearn, and for whom ease of 
mind and body should be provided, if for no 
others. Therefore it is, as I told you this 
morning, that the title of every man, woman, 
and child to the means of existence rests on 
no basis less plain, broad and simple than the 
fact that they are fellows of one race — mem- 
bers of one human family. The only coin 
current is the image of God, and that is 
good for all we have. 

w I think there is no feature of the civiliza- 
tion of your epoch so repugnant to modern 
ideas as the neglect with which you treated 
your dependent classes. Even if you had no 
pity, no feeling of brotherhood, how was it 
that you did not see that you were robbing the 
incapable class of their plain right in leaving 
them unprovided for?" 

w I don't quite follow you there," I said. w I 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 1 87 

admit the claim of this class to our pity, but 
how could they who produced nothing claim a 
share of the product as a right?" 

w How happened it," was Dr. Leete's reply, 
"that your workers were able to produce more 
than so many savages would have done ? Was 
it not wholly on account of the heritage of the 
past knowledge and achievements of the race, 
the machinery of society, thousands of years 
in contriving, found by you ready-made to 
your hand? How did you come to be pos- 
sessors of this knowledge and this machinery, 
which represent nine parts to one contributed 
by yourself, in the value of your product? 
You inherited it, did you not? And were not 
these others, these unfortunate and crippled 
brothers whom you cast out, joint inher- 
itors, co-heirs with you? What did you do 
with their share? Did you not rob them, 
when vou put them ofT with crusts, who were 
entitled to sit with the heirs, and did you not 
add insult to robbery when you called the 
crusts charity?" 



l88 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

w Ah, Mr. West," Dr. Leete continued, as I 
did not respond, "what I do not understand 
is, setting aside all considerations either of 
justice or brotherly feeling toward the crippled 
and defective, how the workers of your day 
could have had any heart for their work, 
knowing that their children, or grand-children, 
if unfortunate, would be deprived of the com- 
forts and even necessities of life. It is a mys- 
tery how men with children could favor a 
system under which they were rewarded be- 
yond those less endowed with bodily strength 
or mental power. For, by the same discrim- 
ination by which the father profited, the son, for 
whom he would give his life, being perchance* 
weaker than others, might be reduced to want 
and beggary. How men dared leave children 
behind them, I have never been able to under- 
stand." 



Notb. — Although la his talk on the previous evening Dr. Leete had 
emphasized the pains taken to enable every man to ascertain and follow 
his natural bent in choosing an occupation, it was not till 1 learned that 
the worker's income is the same in all occupations, that I realized how 
absolutely he may be counted on to do so, and thus, by selecting the har. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 189 



ness which sets most lightly on himself, find that in which he can pull 
beat. The failure of my age in anj systematic or effect ire way to develop 
and utilize the natural nptitudes of men, for t!ie industries and intel- 
lectual avocations, was one of the. great wastes, at well at one of the 
most common causes of unhappincss in that time. The vast majority 
of my contemporaries, though nominally free to do to, never really chose 
their occupations at all, but were forced by circumstances into work for 
which they were relatively inefficient, because not naturally fitted for it. 
The rich, in this respect, had little advantage over the poor. The latter, 
indeed, bring generally deprived of education, had no opportunity even 
to ascertain the natural aptitudes they might have, and, on account of' 
their poverty, were un:ible to develop them by cultivation, even when 
ascertained. The liberal and technical professions, except by favorable 
accident, were shut to them, to their own great loss and that of the 
haiion. On the other hand, the well-to-do, although they could corn* 
tnand education and opportunity, were scarcely leas hampered by social 
prejudice, which forbade them to pursue manual avocations,'even when 
adapted to them, and destined them, whether fit or unfit, to the profes- 
sion*, thin watting many an excellent handicraftsman. Mercenary con* 
sidcrations, tempting men to pursue moncy.making occupations for 
whi< h they were unfit, Instead of less remunerative employments for 
which they were fit, were responsible for another vast perversion of tal- 
ent. All thc<c things now are changed. Equal education and oppor- 
tunity must needs bring to light whatever aptitudes a man has, and 
neither social prejudices nor mercenary contiderationt hamper him in 
the choke oft bis life work. 



X90 LOOKING BACKWARD. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

A S Edith had promised he should do, 
■^ *** Dr. Leete accompanied me to my bed- 
room when I retired, to instruct me as to the 
adjustment of the musical telephone. He 
showed how, by turning* a screw, the volume 
of the music could be made to fill the room, 
or die away to an echo so faint and far that 
one could scarcely be sure whether he heard 
or imagined it. If, of two persons side by 
side, one desired to listen to music and the 
other to sleep, it could be made audible to one 
and inaudible to another. 

,e I should strongly advise you to sleep if 
you can to-night, Mr. West, in preference to 
listening to the finest tunes in the world," the 
doctor said, after explaining these points. "In 
the trying experience you are just now passing 
through, sleep is a nerve tonic for which there 
is no substitute." 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 191 

Mindful of what had happened to me that 
very morning, I promised to heed his counsel. 

"Very well,* he said; "then I will set the 
telephone at eight o'clock. n 

n What do you mean ? n I asked. 

He explained that, by a clock-work combi- 
nation, a person could arrange to be awakened 
at any hour by the music. 

It began to appear, as has since fully proved 
to be the case, that I had left my tendency to 
insomnia behind me with the other discomforts 
of existence in the nineteenth century ; for 
though I took no sleeping draught this time, 
yet, as the night before, I had no sooner 
touched the pillow than I was asleep. 

I dreamed that I sat on the throne of the 
Abencerrages in the banqueting hall of the 
Alhambra, feasting my lords and generals, 
who next day were to follow the crescent 
against the Christian dogs of Spain. The air, 
cooled by the spray of fountains, was heavy 
with the scent of flowers. A band of Nautch 



19> LOOKING BACKWARD. 

girls, round-limbed and luscious-lipped, danced 
with voluptuous grace to the music of brazen 
and stringed instruments. Looking up to the 
latticed galleries, one caught a gleam now and 
then from the eye of some beauty of the royal 
harem, looking down upon the assembled 
fower of Moorish chivalry. Louder and 
louder clashed the cymbals, wilder and wilder 
grew the strain, till the blood of the desert 
race could no longer resist the martial delir- 
ium, and the swart nobles leaped to their feet ; 
a thousand scimetars were bared, and the cry, 
*' Allah il Allah ! " shook the hall and awoke 
me, to find it broad daylight, and the room 
tingling with the electric music of the " Turk- 
ish Reveille." 

At the breakfast-table, when I told my host 
of my morning's experience, I learned that it 
was not a mere chance that the piece of music 
which awakened me was a reveille. The airs 
played at one of the halls during the waking 
hours of the morning were always of an inspir- 
ing type. 





LOOKING BACKWARD. X93 

"By the way," I said, w that reminds me, 
talking of Spain, that I have not thought to 
ask you anything about the state of Europe. 
Have the societies of the Old World also been 
remodeled? " 

n Yes," replied Dr. Leete, n the great nations 
of Europe, as well as Australia, Mexico, and 
parts of South America, are now industrial 
republics like the United States, which was the 
pioneer of the evolution. The peaceful rela- 
tions of these nations are assured by a loose 
form of federal union of world-wide extent* 
An international council\egulates the mutual 
intercourse and commerce of the members of 
the union, and their joinKjjolicy toward the 
more backward races, which are gradually 
being educated up to civilized institutions. 
Complete autonomy within its own limits is 
enjoyed by every nation. " 

n How do you carry on commerce without 
money?"' I said. "In trading with other 
nations, you must use some sort of money, 



194 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

although you dispense with it in the internal 
affairs of the nation." 

" Oh, no ; money is as superfluous in our for- 
eign as in our internal relations. When foreign 
commerce was conducted by private enterprise, 
money was necessary to adjust it on account 
of the multifarious complexity of the transac- 
tions ; but nowadays it is a function of the 
nations as units. There are thus only a dozen 
or so merchants in the world, and their busi- 
ness being supervised by the international 
council, a simple system of book accounts 
serves perfectly to regulate their dealings. 
Each nation has a bureau of foreign exchange, 
which manages its trading. For example, 
the American bureau, estimating such and 
such quantities of French goods necessary to 
America for a given year, sends the order to 
the French bureau, which in turn sends its 
order to our bureau. The same is done 
mutually by all the nations." 

"But how are the prices of foreign goods 
settled, since there is no competition?" 




LOOKING BACKWARD. I95 

"The price at which one nation supplies 
another with goods," replied Dr. Leete, w must 
be that at which it supplies its own citizens. So 
you see there is no danger of misunderstand- 
ing. Of course no nation is theoretically 
bound to supply another with the product of. 
its own labor, but it is for the interest of all to 
exchange commodities. If a nation is regu- 
larly supplying another with certain goods, 
notice is required from either side of any 
important change in the relation." 

" But what if a nation, having a monopoly 
of some natural product, should refuse to sup- 
ply it to the others, or to one of them?" 

"Such a case has never occurred, and could 
not without doing the refusing party vasdy 
more harm than the others," replied Dr. Leete. 
"In the first place, no favoritism could be 
shown. The law requires that each nation 
shall deal with the others, in all respects, on 
exactly the same footing. Such a course as 
you suggest would cut off the nation adopting 



I96 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

it from the remainder of the earth for all pur* 
poses whatever. The contingency is one that 
need not give us much anxiety." 

"But," said I, w supposing a nation, having 
a natural monopoly in some product of which 
it exports more than it consumes, should put 
the price away up, and thus, without cutting 
off the supply, make a profit out of its neigh- 
bors' necessities? Its own citizens would, of 
course, have to pay the higher price on that 
commodity, but as a body would make more 
out of foreigners than they would be out of 
pocket themselves." 

M When you come to know how prices of all 
commodities are determined nowadays, you 
will perceive how impossible it is that they 
could be altered, except with reference to the 
amount or arduousness of the work required 
respectively to produce them," was Dr. Leete's 
reply. w This principle is an international as 
well as a national guarantee ; but even without 
it the sense of community of interest, interna 




LOOKING BACKWARD. I97 

tional as well as national, and the conviction 
of the folly of selfishness, are too deep nowa- 
days to render possible such a piece of sharp 
practice as you apprehend. You must under- 
stand that we all look forward to an eventual 
unification of the world as one nation. That, 
no doubt, will be the ultimate form of society, 
and will realize certain economic advantages 
over the present federal system of autonomous 
nations. Meanwhile, however, the present 
system works so nearly perfectly lhat we are 
quite content to leave to posterity the comple- 
tion of the scheme. There are, indeed, some 
who hold that it never will be completed, on 
the ground that the federal plan is not merely 
a provisional solution of the problem of human 
society, but the best ultimate solution." 

" How do you manage," I asked, " when the 
books of any two nations do not balance? 
Supposing we import more from France than 
we export to her." 

" At the end of each year," replied the doc- 



i' 



198 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

tor, "the books of every nation are examined. 
If France is found in our debt, probably we 
are in the debt of some nation which owes 
France, and so on with all the nations. The 
balances that remain after the accounts have 
been cleared by the international council, 
should not be large under our system. What- 
ever they may be, the council requires them to 
be settled every few years, and may require 
their settlement at any time if they are getting 
too large ; for it is not intended that any nation 
shall run largely in debt to another, lest feel- 
ings unfavorable to amity should be engen- 
dered. To guard further against this, the 
international council inspects the commodities 
interchanged by the nations, to see that they 
are of perfect quality." 

"But what are the balances finally settled 
with, seeing that you have no money?" 

" In national staples ; a basis of agreement 
as to what staples shall be accepted, and in 
what proportions, for settlement of accounts, 
being a preliminary to trade relations.' 9 




LOOKING BACntVARD. 199 

" Emigration is another point I want to ask 
you about," said I. " With every nation organ- 
ized as a close industrial partnership, monopo- 
lizing all means of production in the country, 
the emigrant, even if he were permitted to 
land, would starve. I suppose there is no 
emigration nowadays." 

"On the contrary, there is constant emigra- 
tion, by which I suppose you mean removal to 
foreign countries for permanent residence," 
replied Dr. Leete. " It is arranged on a sim- 
ple international arrangement of indemnities. 
For example, if a man at- twenty-one emi- 
grates from England to America, England 
loses all the expense of his maintenance and 
education, and America gets a workman for 
nothing. America accordingly makes Eng- 
land an allowance. The same principle, 
varied to suit the case, applies generally. If 
the man is near the term of his labor when he 
emigrates, the country receiving him has the 
allowance. As to imbecile persons : it is 



200 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

deemed best that each nation should be re- 
sponsible for its own, and the emigration of 
such must be under full guarantees of support 
by his own nation. Subject to these regu- 
lations, the right of any man to emigrate at 
any time is unrestricted." 

" But how about mere pleasure trips ; tours 
of observation ? How can a stranger travel in 
a country whose people do not receive money, 
and are themselves supplied with the means 
of life on a basis not extended to him? His 
own credit card cannot, of course, be good in 
other lands. How does he pay his way ? " 

"An American credit card/' replied Dr. 
Leete, " is just as good in Europe as Ameri- 
can gold used to be, and on precisely the 
same condition, namely, that it be exchanged 
into the currency of the country you are trav- 
elling in. An American in Berlin takes his 
credit card to the local office of the interna- 
tional council, and receives in exchange for 
the whole or part of it a German credit card, 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 20X 

the amount being charged against the United 
States in favor of Germany on the international 
account/ 9 



" Perhaps Mr. West would like to dine at 
the Elephant, to-day ," said Edith, as we left 
the table. 

"That is the name we give to the general 
dining-house of our ward/' explained her 
father. " Not only is our cooking done at the 
public kitchens, as I told you last night, but 
the service and quality of the meals are 
much more satisfactory if taken at the dining- 
house. The two minor meals of the day are 
usually taken at home, as not worth the trouble 
of going out ; but it is general to go out to 
dine. We have not done so since you have 
been with us, from a notion that it would be 
better to wait till you had become a little more 
familiar with our ways. What do you think? 
Shall we take dinner at the dining-house 
to-day?* 



203 LOOKING BACKWARD: 

I said that I should be very much pleased to 
do so. 

Not long after, Edith came to me, smiling, 
and said : 

" Last night, as I was thinVing what I could 
do to make you feel at home until you came 
to be a little more used to us and our ways, an 
idea occurred to me. What would you say if 
I were to introduce you to some very nice peo- 
ple of your own times, whom I am sure you 
used to be well acquainted with?" 

I replied rather vaguely that it would cer- 
tainly be very agreeable, but I did not see how 
she was going to manage it. 

"Come with me," was her smiling reply, 
" and see if I am not as good as my word." 

My susceptibility to surprise had been pret- 
ty well exhausted by the numerous shocks 
it had received, but it was with some wonder- 
ment that I followed her into a room which I 
had not before entered. It was a small, cosy 
apartment, walled with cases filled with books. 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 2<>3 

"Here are your friends," said Edith, indi- 
cating one of the cases, and as my eye glanced 
over the names on the backs of the volumes, 
Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Shelley, 
Tennyson, Defoe, Dickens, Thackeray, 
Hugo, Hawthorne, Irving, and a score of 
other great writers of my time and all time, 
I understood her meaning. She had indeed 
made good her promise in a sense compared 
with which its literal fulfilment would have 
been a disappointment. She had introduced 
me to a circle of friends whom the cen- 
tury that had elapsed since last I communed 
with them had aged as little as it had myself. 
Their spirit was as high, their wit as keen, 
their laughter and their tears as contagious as 
when their speech had whiled away the hours 
of a former century. Lonely I was not and 
could not be more, with this goodly compan- 
ionship, however wide the gulf of years that 
gaped between me and my old life. 

"You are glad I brought you here," ex- 



3Q4 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

claimed Edith, radiant, as she read in my face 
the success of her experiment. "It was a 
good idea, was it not, Mr. West? How stupid 
in me not to think of it before ! I will leave 
you now with your old friends, for I know 
there will be no company for you like them 
just now; but remember you must not let 
old friends make you quite forget new ones ! " 
and with that smiling caution she left me. 

Attracted by the most familiar of the names 
before me, I laid my hand on a volume of 
Dickens, and sat down to read. He had 
always been my prime favorite among the 
book-writers of the century, — I mean the nine- 
teenth century, — and a week had rarely 
passed in my old life during which I had not 
taken up some volume of his works to while 
away an idle hour. Any volume with which 
I had been familiar would have produced an 
extraordinary impression, read under my pres- 
ent circumstances, but my exceptional famil- 
iarity with Dickens, and his consequent power 



LOOKING BACKWARD. %Q$ 

to call up the associations of my former life, 
gave to his writings an effect no others could 
have had, to intensify, by force of contrast, my 
appreciation of the strangeness of my present 
environment. However new and astonishing 
one's surroundings, the tendency is to become 
a part of them so soon that almost from the 
first the power to see them objectively and 
fully measure their strangeness, is lost. 
That power already dulled in my case, 
the pages of Dickens restored by carrying 
me back through their associations to the 
standpoint of my former life. With a clear- 
ness which I had not been able before to 
attain, I sa\v now the past and present, like 
contrasting pictures, side by side. 

The genius of the great novelist of the nine- 
teenth century, like that of Homer, might 
indeed defy time ; but the setting of his pa- 
thetic tales, the misery of the poor, the wrongs 
of power, the pitiless cruelty of the system of 
society, had passed away as utterly as Circe 
and the sirens, Charybdis and Cyclops. 



M6 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

% 

During the hour or two that I sat there with 
Dickens open before me, I did not actually 
read more than a couple of pages. Every 
paragraph, every phrase, brought up some 
new aspect of the world-transformation which 
• had taken place, and led my thoughts on long 
and widely ramifying excursions. As medi- 
tating thus in Dr. Leete's library, I gradually 
attained a more clear and coherent idea of the 
prodigious spectacle which I had been so 
strangely enabled to view, I was filled with a 
deepening wonder at the seeming capacious- 
ness of the fate that had given to one who 
so little deserved it, or seemed in any way set 
apart for it, the power alone among his con- 
temporaries to stand upon the earth in this 
latter day. I had neither foreseen the new 
world nor toiled for it, as many about me had 
done, regardless of the scorn of fools or the 
misconstruction of the good. Surely it would 
have been more in accordance with the fitness 
of things, had one of those prophetic and 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 107 

strenuous souls been enabled to see the travail 
of his soul and be satisfied, he, for example, a 
thousand times rather than I, who, having be- 
held in a vision the world I looked on, sang of 
it in words that again and again, during these 
last wondrous days, had rung in my mind : 

For I dipt into the future, far at human ejre could tee, 
Saw the rision of the world, and all the wonder that would 
be; 

Till the war-drum throbbed no longer, and the battle-flag • 

were furled 
In the Parliament of man, the federation of the world. 

Then the common sense of moat shall hold a fretful realm 

in awe, 
And the kindlj earth shall slumber, lapt in unirersal 

law. 

For I doubt not through the aget one increasing purpose 

runs, ' 
And the thoughts of men are widened with the process of 

the suns. 

What though, in his old age, he momen- 
tarily lost faith in his own prediction, as 
prophets in their hours of depression and 
doubt generally do, the words had remained 
eternal testimony to the seership of a poet's 
hearty the insight that is given to faith. 



i 



208 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

I was still in the library when some hours 
later Dr. Leete sought me there. "Edith 
told me of her idea," he said, "and I thought 
it an excellent one. I had a little curi- 
osity what writer you would first turn to. 
Ah, Dickens I You admired him, then I That 
is where we moderns agree with you* 
Judged by our standards, he overtops all the 
writers of his age, not because his literary 
genius was highest, but because his great 
heart beat for the poor, because he made 
the cause of the victims of society his own 
and devoted his pen to exposing its cruelties 
and shams. No man of his time did so 
much as he to turn men's minds to the wrong 
and wretchedness of the old order of things, 
and open their eyes to the necessity of the 
great change that was coming, although he 
himself did not clearly foresee it." 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 209 



CHAPTER XIV. 

A HEAVY rainstorm came up during 
■* ^ the day, and I had concluded that the 
condition of the streets would be such that 
my hosts would have to give up the idea 
of going out to dinner, although the dining- 
hall I had understood to be quite near. I 
was much surprised when at the dinner 
hour the ladies appeared prepared to go out, 
but without either rubbers or umbrellas. 

The mystery was explained when we found 
ourselves on the street, for a continuous water- 
proof covering had been let down so as to 
enclose the sidewalk and turn it into a well 
lighted and perfectly dry corridor, which was 
filled with a stream of ladies and gentlemen 
dressed for dinner. At the corners light 
bridges, similarly covered in, led over the 
streets. Edith Leete, with whom I walked, 



2IO LOOKING BACKWARD. 

seemed much interested in learning, what 
appeared to be entirely new to her, that 
in the stormy weather the streets of the 
Boston of my day had been impassable, 
except to persons protected by umbrellas* 
boots, and heavy clothing. "Were side- 
walk coverings not used at all?" she asked 
They were used, I explained, but in a scat- 
tered and utterly unsystematic way, being 
private enterprises. She said to me that at 
the present time all the streets were provided 
against inclement weather in the manner 1 
saw, the apparatus being rolled out of the 
way when it was unnecessary. She intimated 
that it would be considered an extraordinary 
imbecility to permit the weather to have any 
effect on the social movements of the people. 
Dr. Leete, who was walking ahead, over- 
hearing something of our talk, turned to say 
that the difference between the age of indi- 
vidualism and that of concert, was well char- 
acterized by the fact that, in the nineteenth 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 211 

century, when it rained, the people of Boston 
put up three hundred thousand umbrellas over 
as many heads, and in the twentieth century 
they put up one umbrella over all the heads. 

As we walked on Edith said, "The private 
umbrella is father's favorite figure to illustrate 
the old way when everybody lived for him- 
self and his family. There is a nineteenth 
century painting at the art gallery representing 
a crowd of people in the rain, each one hold- 
ing his umbrella over himself and his wife, and 
giving his neighbors the drippings, which he 
claims must have been meant by the artist as a 
satire on his times." 

We now entered a large building into which 
a stream of people was pouring. I could 
not see the front, owing to the awning, but, 
if in correspondence with the interior, which 
was even finer than the store I visited the day 
before, it would have been magnificent. My 
companion said that the sculptured group over 
the entrance was especially admired. Going 



212 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

up a grand staircase we walked some distance 
along a broad corridor with many doors open- 
ing upon it. At one of these, which bore my 
host's name, we turned in, and I found myself 
in an elegant dining-room containing a table 
for four. Windows opened on a courtyard 
where a fountain played to a great height, and 
music made the air electric. 

"You seem at home here," I said, as we 
seated ourselves at table, and Dr. Leete 
touched an annunciator. 

" This is, in fact, a part of our house, slightly 
detached from the rest," he replied. " Every 
family in the ward has a room set apart in this 
great building for its permanent and exclusive 
use for a small annual rental. For transient 
guests and individuals there is accommodation 
on another floor. If we expect to dine here, 
we put in our orders the night before, select- 
ing anything in market, according to the 
daily reports in the papers. The meal is as 
expensive or as simple as we please, though of 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 213 

course everything is vastly cheaper as well as 
better than it would be if prepared at home. 
There is actually nothing which our people take 
more interest in than the perfection of the cater- 
ing and cooking done for them, and I admit 
that we are a little vain of the success that has 
been attained by this branch of the service. 
Ah, my dear Mr. West, though other aspects 

of your civilization were more tragical, I can 
imagine that none could have been more de- 
pressing than the poor dinners you had to eat, 
that is, all of you who had not great wealth." 

w You would have found none of us disposed 
to disagree with you on that point,' 9 1 said. 

The waiter, a fine looking young fellow* 
wearing a slightly distinctive uniform, now 
made his appearance. I observed him closely, 
as it was the first time I had been able to 
study particularly the bearing of one of the 
enlisted members of the industrial army. This 
young man, I knew from what I had been 
told, must be highly educated, and the equal 



214 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

socially and in all respects, of those he served 
But it was perfectly evident that to neither side 
was the situation in the slightest degree embar- 
rassing. Dr. Leete addressed the young man 
in a tone devoid, of course, as any gentleman's 
would be, of superciliousness, but at the same 
time not any way deprecatory, while the man- 
ner of the young man was simply that of a 
person intent on discharging correctly the task 
he was engaged in, equally without familiarity 
or obsequiousness. It was, in fact, the 'man- 
ner of a soldier on duty, but without the mili- 
tary stiffness. As the youth left the room, I 
said, w I cannot get over my wonder at seeing a 
young man like that serving so contentedly in 
a menial position." 

"What is that word 'menial'? I never 
heard it," said Edith. 

n It is obsolete now," remarked her father. 
"If I understand it rightly, it applied to per 
sons who performed particularly disagreeable 
and unpleasant tasks for others, and carried 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 215 

with it an implication of contempt. Was it not 
so, Mr. West?" 

"That is about it," I said. * Personal ser- 
vice, such as waiting on tables, was considered 
menial, and held in such contempt, in my day, 
that persons of culture and refinement would 
suffer hardship before condescending to it." 

" What a strangely artificial idea," exclaimed 
Mrs. Leete, wonderingly. 

"And yet these services had to be ren- 
dered," said Edith. 

n Of course," I replied. " But we imposed 
them on the poor, and those who had no alter- 
native but starvation." 

" And increased the burden you imposed on 
them by adding your contempt," remarked Dr. 
Leete. 

"I don't think I clearly understand," said 
Edith. "Do you mean that you permitted 
people to do things for you which you despised 
them for doing, or that you accepted services 
from them which you would have been unwill- 



2X6 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

ing to render them? You can't surely mean 
that, Mr- West?" 

I was obliged to tell her that the fact was 
just as she had stated. Dr. Leete, however, 
came to my relief. 

w To understand why Edith is surprised," he 
said, " you must know that nowadays it is an 
axiom of ethics that to accept a service from 
another which we would be unwilling to return 
in kind, if need were, is like borrowing with 
/he intention of not repaying, while to enforce 
such a service by taking advantage of the pov- 
erty or necessity of a person would be an out- 
rage like forcible robbery. It is the worst 
thing about any system which divides men, or 
allows them to be divided, into classes and 
castes, ihat it weakens the sense of a common 
humanity. Unequal distribution of wealth, 
and, still more effectually, unequal opportuni- 
ties of education and culture, divided society in 
your day into classes which, in many respects, 
regarded each other as distinct races. There 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 21} 

U not, after all, such a difference as might 
ajroear between our ways of looking at this 
question of service. Ladies and gentlemen of 
the cultured class in your day would no more 
have permitted persons of their own class to 
render them services they would scorn to 
return than we would permit anybody to do 
so. The poor and the uncultured, however, 
they looked upon as of another kind from 
themselves. The equal wealth and equal 
opportunities of culture which all persons now 
enjoy have simply made us all members of 
one class, which corresponds to the most for- 
tunate class with you. Until this equality of 
condition had come to pass, the idea of the 
solidarity of humanity, the brotherhood of all 
men could never have become the real convic- 
tion and practical principle of action it is now- 
adays. In your day the same phrases were 

indeed used, but they were phrases merely.* 
n Do the waiters, also, volunteer?" 
* No,* replied Dr. Leete. n The waiters are 



3l8 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

young men in the unclassified grade of the 
industrial army who are assignable to all 
sorts of miscellaneous occupations not requir- 
ing special skill. Waiting on table is one of 
tthese, and every young recruit is given a taste 
<of it. I myself served as a waiter for several 
months in this very dining-house some forty 
years ago. Once more you must remember 
that there is recognized no sort of difference 
between the dignity of the different sorts of 
work required by the nation. The individual 
is never regarded, nor regards himself, as the 
servant of those he serves, nor is he in any 
way dependent upon them. It is always the 
nation which he is serving. No difference is 
recognized between a waiter's functions and 
those of any other worker. The fact that his 
is a personal service is indifferent from our 
point of view. So is a doctor's. I should as 
soon expect our waiter to-day to look down on 
me because I served him as a doctor, as think 
of looking down on him because he serves me 
as a waiter." 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 2x9 

After dinner my entertainers conducted me 
about the building, of which the extent, the 
magnificent architecture and richness of em- 
bellishment astonished me. It seemed that it 
was not merely a dining-hall, but likewise a 
great pleasure-house and social rendezvous of 
the quarter, and no appliance of entertainment 
or recreation was lacking. 

"You find illustrated here," said Dr. Leete, 
when I had expressed my admiration, "what I 
said to you in our first conversation, when you 
were looking out over the city, as to the splen- 
dor of our public and common life as compared 
with the simplicity of our private and home life, 
and the contrast which, in this respect, the 
twentieth bears to the nineteenth century. To 
save ourselves useless burdens, we have as lit- 
tle gear about us at home as is consistent with 
comfort, but the social side of our life is ornate 
and luxurious beyond anything the world ever 
knew before. All the industrial and profes- 
sional guilds have club-houses as extensive as 



220 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

this, as well as country, mountain, and seaside 
houses for sport and rest in vacations." 

During the Utter part of the nineteenth century it became a practice 
of needy young men at some of the colleges of the country, to earn a 
little money for their term bills by serving as waiters on tables at hotels 
during the long summer vacation. It was claimed, in reply to critics 
who expressed the prejudices of the time in asserting that persons vol- 
untarily following such an occupation could not te gentlemen, that they 
were entitled to praise for vindicating, by their example, the dignity of 
all honest and necessary labor. The use of this argument illustrates a 
common contusion in thought on the part of my former contemporaries. 
The business of waiting on tables was in no more need of defence than 
most of the other ways of getting a living in that day, but to talk ol 
dignity attaching to labor of any sort under the system then prevailing 
was absurd. There is no way in which selling labor for the highest 
price it will fetch is more dignified than selling goods for what can be 
got. Both were commercial transactions to be judged by the commer- 
cial standard. By setting a price in money on his service, the worker 
accepted the money measure for it, and renounced all clear claim to be 
judged by any other. The sordid taint which tins necessity imparted to 
the noblest and the highest sorts of service was bitterly resented by 
generous souls, but there was no evading it. There was no exemption, 
however transcendent the quality of one's service, from the necessity of 
haggling for its price in the market-place. The physician must sell hit 
healing and the apostle his preaching like the rest. The prophet, who 
had guessed the meaning of God, must dicker (or the price of the revela- 
tion, and the poet hawk his visions in printers' row. If I were asked 
jo name the most distinguishing felicity of this age, as compared to that 
in which I first saw the light, I should say that to me it seems to con- 
sist in the dignity you have given to labor by refusing to set a price 
upon it and abolishing the market-place forever. By requiring of every 
man his best you have made God his task- master, and by making honor 
the sole reward of achievement you have imparted to all service the 
distinction peculiar in my day to the soldier's. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 221 



CHAPTER XV. 

\\ THEN, in the course of our tour of in- 

* * spection, we came to the library, we, 
succumbed to the temptation of the luxurious 
leather chairs with which it was furnished, and 
sat down in one of the book-lined alcoves to 
rest and chat awhile. # 

n Edith tells me that you have been in the 
library all the morning," said Mrs. Leete. 
"Do yuu know it seems to me, Mr. West, 
that you are the most enviable of mortals." 

"I should like to know just why/' I replied. 

" Because the books of the last hundred 
years will be new to you," she answered. 
f You will have so much of the most absorbing 

1 auinot sufficiently celebrate the glorioaa liberty that reigns la tat 
aaolic libraries of the twentieth century as compared with the Into*, 
arable management of those of the nineteenth century, la which tht 
hooks were jealoualy railed away from the people, aad obtal a s h le aaly 
at an eapeadirmre of time aad ted tape calculated to diacoarage ant 
ordinary taete for liattmtnra. 



222 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

literature to read as to leave you scarcely time 
for meals these five years to come. Ah, what 
would I give if I had not already read Berrian's 
• novels." 

" Or Nes myth's, mamma," added Edith. 

"Yes, or f Oates' poems,' or 'Past and Pres- 
ent,' or, *In the Beginning/ or, — oh, I could 
name a dozen books, each worth a year of 
one's life," declared Mrs. Leete, enthusiasti- 
cally. 

"I judge, then, that there has been some 
notable literature produced in this century." 

w Yes," said Dr. Leete. " It has been an era 
of unexampled intellectual splendor. Prob- 
ably humanity never before passed through a 
moral and material evolution, at once so vast in 
its scope and brief in its time of accomplish- 
ment, as that from the old order to the new in 
the early part of this century. When men 
came to realize the greatness of the felicity 
which had befallen them, and that the change 
through which they had passed was not 



LOOKING BACKWARD. M3 

merely an improvement 11J details of their con- 
dition, but the rise of the race to a new plane 
of existence with an illimitable vista of progress, 
their minds were affected in all their faculties 
with a stimulus, of which the outburst of 
the mediaeval renaissance offers a suggestion 
but faint indeed. There ensued an era of 
mechanical invention, scientific discovery, art, 
musical and literary productiveness to which 
no previous age of the world offers anything 
comparable." 

"By the way,** said I, ,r talking of literature, 
how are books published now? Is that also 
done by the nation ? " 

"Certainly." 

"But how do you manage it? Does the 
government publish everything that is brought 
it as a matter of course, at the public expense, 
or does it exercise a censorship and print only 
what it approves?" 

"Neither way. The printing department 
has no censorial powers. It is bound to print 



224 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

all that is offered it, but prints it only on condi- 
tion that the author defray the first cost out of 
his credit. He must pay for the privilege of 
the public ear, and if he has any message 
worth hearing we consider that he will be glad 
to do it. Of course, if incomes were unequal, 
as in the old times, this rule would enable only 
the rich to be authors, but the resources of citi- 
zens being equal, it merely measures the 
strength of the author's motive. The cost of 
an edition of an average book can be saved out 
of a year's credit by the practice of economy 
and some sacrifices. The book, on being 
published, is placed on sale by the nation." 

w The author receiving a royalty on the sales 
as with us, I suppose?" I suggested. 

"Not as with you, certainly," replied Dr. 
Leete; "but nevertheless in one way. The 
price of every book is made up of the cost of 
its publication with a royalty for the author. 
The amount of this royalty is set to his credit 
and he is discharged from other service to the 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 225 

nation for so long a period as this credit at the 
rate of allowance for the support of citizens 
shall suffice to support him. If his book be 
moderately successful, he has thus a furlough 
for several months, a year, two or three years, 
and if he in the meantime produces other suc- 
cessful work, the remission of service is 
extended so far as the sale of that may justify. 
An author of much acceptance succeeds in 
supporting himself by his pen during the entire 
period of service, and the degree of any writer's 
literary ability, as determined by the popular 
voice, is thus the measure of the opportunity 
given him to devote his time to literature. In 
this respect the outcome of our system is not 
very dissimilar to that of yours, but there are 
two notable differences. In the first place, the 
universally high level of education nowadays 
gives the popular verdict a conclusiveness on 
the real merit of literary work which in your 
day it was as far as possible from having. In 
the second place, there is no such thing now 



236 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

as favoritism of any sort to interfere with the 
recognition of true merit. Every author has 
precisely the same facilities for bringing his 
work before the popular tribunal. To judge 
from the complaints of the writers of your 
day, this absolute equality of opportunity 
would have been greatly prized." 

" In the recognition of merit in other fields 
of original genius, such as music, art, inven- 
tion, design" I said, "I suppose you follow a 
similar principle." 

"Yes," he replied, * although the details 
differ. In art, for example, as in literature, 
the people are the sole judges. They vote 
upon the acceptance of statues and paintings 
for the public buildings, and their favorable ver- 
dict carries with it the artist's remission from 
other tasks to devote himself to his voca- 
tion. In all these lines of original genius the 
plan pursued is the same, — to offer a free 
field to aspirants, and as soon as exceptional 
talent is recognized o release it from all 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 227 

trammels and let it have free course. The 
remission of other service in these cases is not 
intended as a gift or reward, but as the means 
of obtaining more and higher service. Of 
course there are various literary, art, and sci- 
entific institutes to which membership comes 
to the famous and is greatly prized. The 
highest of all honors in the nation, higher than 
the presidency, which calls merely for good 
sense and devotion to duty, is the red ribbon 
awarded by the vote of the people to the great 
authors, artists, engineers, physicians, and 
inventors of the generation. Not over one 
hundred wear it at any one time, though every 
bright young fellow in the c ountry loses in- 

numerable nights 9 sleep dreaming of it. I even 

» **^ — ^^— — — — — — ^^~ m ~~ 

did myself." 

"Just as if mamma and I would have thought 
any more of you with it/' exclaimed Edith; 
" not that it isn't, of course, a very fine thing to 
have." 

" You had no choice, my dear, but to take 



228 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

your father as you found him and make the 
best of him," Dr. Leete replied ; w but as for your 
mother, there, she would never have had me 
if I had not assured her that I was bound to 
get the ribbon." 

On this extravagance Mrs. Leete's only 
comment was a smile. 

" How about periodicals and newspapers," I 
jaid. w I won't deny that your book publish- 
ing system is a considerable improvement on 
ours, both as to its tendency to encourage a 
real literary vocation, and, quite as important, 
to discourage mere scribblers ; but I don't see 
how it can be made to apply to magazines and 
newspapers. It is very well to make a man 
pay for publishing a book, because the ex- 
pense will be only occasional ; but no man 
could afford the expense of publishing a news- 
paper every day in the year. It took the deep 
pockets of our private capitalists to do that, 
and often exhausted even them before the 
returns came in. If you have newspapers at 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 229 

all, they must, I fancy, be published by the 
government at the public expense, with gov- 
ernment editors, reflecting government opin- 
ions. Now, if your system is so perfect that 
there is never anything to criticize in the con- 
duct of affairs, this arrangement may answer. 
Otherwise I should think the lack of an inde- 
pendent unofficial medium for the expression 
of public opinion would have most unfortunate 
results. Confess, Dr. Leete, that a free news- 
paper press, with all that it implies, was a 
redeeming incident of the old system when 
capital was in private hands, and that you 
have to set off the loss of that against your 
gains in other respects." 

" I am afraid I can't give you even that con- 
solation," replied Dr. Leete, laughing. "In 
the first place, Mr. West, the newspaper press 
is by no means the only or, as we look at it, 
the best vehicle for serious criticism of public 
affairs. To us, the judgments of your news- 
papers on such themes seem generally to have 



23O LOOKING BACKWARD. 

been crude and flippant, as well as deeply 
tinctured with prejudice and bitterness. In 
so far as they may be taken as expressing 
public opinion, they give an unfavorable im- 
pression of the popular intelligence, while so 
far as they may have formed public opinion, 
the nation was not to be felicitated. Nowa- 
days, when a citizen desires to make a serious 
impression upon the public mind as to any 
aspect of public affairs, he comes out with a 
book or pamphlet, published as other books 
are. But this is not because we lack newspa- 
pers and magazines, or that they lack the 
most absolute freedom. The newspaper press 
is organized so as to be a more perfect ex- 
pression of public opinion than it possibly 
could be in your day, when private capital 
controlled and managed it primarily as a 
money-making business, and secondarily only 
as a mouthpiece for the people." 

"But," said I, w if the government prints the 
papers at the public expense, how can it fail to 



the! 
liter, \ 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 23 1 

control their policy ? Who appoints the editors 
if not the government? " 

" The government does not pay the expense 
of the papers, nor appoint their editors, nor in 
any way exert the slightest influence on their 
policy," replied Dr. Leete. 

"The people who take the paper pay 
expense of its publication, choose its editor 
and remove him when unsatisfactory. You 
will scarcely say, I think, that such a news- 
paper press is not a free organ of populai | 
opinion. " 

"Decidedly, I shall not," I replied, "but 
how is it practicable?" 

"Nothing could be simpler. Supposing 
some of my neighbors or myself think we 
ought to have a newspaper reflecting our opin- 
ions, and devoted especially to our locality, 
trade, or profession. We go about among the 
>eople till we get the names of such a number 
that their annual subscriptions will meet the 
cost of the paper, which is little or big accord- 



33* LOOKING BACKWARD. 

ing to the largeness of its constituency. The 
amount of the subscriptions marked off the 
credits of the citizens guarantees the nation 
against loss in publishing the paper, its busi- 
ness, you understand, being that of a publisher 
purely, with no option to refuse the duty re- 
quired. The subscribers to the paper now elect 
somebody as editor who, if he accepts the office, 
is discharged from other service during his in- 
cumbency. Instead of paying a salary to him, 
as in your day, the subscribers pay the nation 
an indemnity equal to the cost of his support for 
taking him away from the general service. 
He manages the paper just as one of your edi- 
tors did, except that he has no counting-room 
to obey, or interests of private capital as 
against the public good to defend. At the 
end of the first year, the subscribers for the 
next either re-elect the former editor or choose 
any one else to his place. An able editor, of 
course, keeps his place indefinitely. As the 
subscription list enlarges, the funds of the paper 



LOOKING BACKWARD. *33 

increase, and it is improved by the securing of 
more and better contributors, just as your 
papers were." 

"How is the staff of contributors recom- 
pensed, since they cannot be paid in money. n 

"The editor settles with them the price of their 
wares. The amount is transferred to their 
individual credit from the guarantee credit 
of the paper, and a remission of service is 
granted the contributor for a length of time 
corresponding to the amount credited him, 
just as to other authors. As to magazines, the 
system is the same. Those interested in the 
prospectus of a new periodical pledge enough 
subscriptions to run it for a year; select 
their editor, who recompenses his contribu- 
tors just as in the other case, the printing 
bureau furnishing the necessary force and 
material for publication, as a matter of course. 
When an editor's services arc no longer de- 
sired, if he cannot earn the right to his time 
by other literary work, foe simply resumes his 



234 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

place in the industrial army. I should add 
that, though ordinarily the editor is elected 
only at the end of the year, and as a rule is 
continued in office for a term of years, in case 
of any sudden change he should give to the 
tone of the paper, provision is made for tak- 
ing the sense of the subscribers as to his re- 
moval at any time." 

When the ladies retired that evening, Edith 
brought me a book and said : 

w If you should be wakeful to-night, Mr. 
West, you might be interested in looking over 
this story by Berrian. It is considered his* 
masterpiece, and will at least give you an idea 
what the stories nowadays are like." 

I sat up in my room that night reading 
w Penthesilia " till it grew gray in the east, and 
did not lay it down till I had finished it. And 
yet let no admirer of the great romancer of the 
twentieth century resent my saying that at the 
first reading what most impressed me was not 
so much what was in the book as what was 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 235 

left out of it. The story-writers of my day 
would have deemed the making of bricks with- 
out straw a light task compared with the con- 
struction of a romance from which should 
be excluded all effects drawn from the con- 
trasts of wealth and poverty, education and 
ignorance, coarseness and refinement, high 
and low, all motives drawn from social pride 
and ambition, the desire of being richer or 
the fear of being poorer, together with sordid 
anxieties of any sort for one's self or others ; a 
romance in which there should, indeed, be love 
galore, but love unfrettcd by artificial bar- 
riers created by differences of station or pos- 
sessions, owning no other law but that of the 
heart. The reading of " Penthesilia " was of 
more value than almost any amount of explan- 
ation would have been in giving me something 
like a general impression of the social aspect 
of the twentieth century. The information 
Dr Leete had imparted was indeed extensive 



236 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

as to facts, but they had affected my mind as 
so many separate impressions, which I had 
as yet succeeded but imperfectly in making 
cohere. Berrian put them together for me in 
a picture. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. *37 



CHAPTER XVI. 

"V TEXT morning I rose somewhat before 
■*" ^ the breakfast hour. As I descended 
the stairs, Edith stepped into the hall from 
the room which had been the scene of the 
morning interview between us described some 
chapters back. 

" Ah ! " she exclaimed, with a charmingly 
arch expression, "you thought to slip out un- 
beknown for another of those solitary morning 
rambles which have such nice effects on you. 
But you see I am up too early for you this 
lime You are fairly caught. n 

"You discredit the efficacy of your own 
cuie," I said, n by supposing that such a 
ramble would now be attended with bad con- 
sequences." 

" I am very glad to hear that," she said. " I 
was in here arranging some flowers for the 



2& LOOKING BACKWARD. 

breakfast table when I heard you come down, 
and fancied I detected something surreptitious 
in your step on the stairs." 

"You did me injustice," I replied. "I had 
no idea of going out at all." 

Despite her effort to convey an impression 
that my interception was purely accidental, I 
had at the time a dim suspicion of what I after- 
wards learned to be the fact, namely, that this 
sweet creature, in pursuance of her self- 
assumed guardianship over me, had risen for 
the last two or three mornings, at an unheard 
of hour, to insure against the possibility of my 

wandering off alone in case I should be 
affected as on the former occasion. Receiv- 
ing permission to assist her in making up the 
breakfast bouquet, I followed her into the 
room from which she had emerged. 

"Are you sure," she asked, "that you are 
quite done with those terrible sensations you 
had that morning?" 

" I can't say that I do not have times of feel- 



LOOKING BACiiWAhD. %29 

ing decidedly queer;" I replied, * moments 
when my personal identity seems an open 
question. It would be too much to expect after 
my experience that I should not have such 
sensations occasionally, but as for being car- 
ried entirely off my feet, as I was on the point 
of being that morning, I think the danger is 
past." 

* I shall never forget how you looked that 
morning," she said. 

n If you had merely saved my life," I con 
tinued, "I might, perhaps, find words to 
express my gratitude, but it was my reason 
you saved, and there are no words that would 
not belittle my debt to you." I spoke with 
emotion, and her eyes grew suddenly moist. 

n It is too much to believe all this," she said, 
"but it is very delightful to hear you say it. 
What I did was very little. I was very 
much distressed for you, I know. Father 
never thinks anything ought to astonish us 
when it can be explained scientifically, as I 



24O LOOKING BACKWARD. 

suppose this long sleep of yours can be, but 
even to fancy myself in your place makes my 
head swim. I know that I could not have 
berne it at all/' 

w That would depend," I replied, w on whether 
an angel came to support you with her sympa- 
thy in the crisis of your condition, as one 
came to me." If my face at all expressed the 
feelings I had a right to have toward this 
sweet and lovely young girl, who had played 
so angelic a role toward me, its expression must 
have been very worshipful just then. The 
expression or the words, or b&th together, 
caused her now to drop her eyes with a 
charming blush. 

"For the matter of that," I said, "if your 
experience has not been as startling as mine, 
it must have been rather overwhelming to see 
a man belonging to a strange century, and 
apparently a hundred years dead, raised to 
life." 

* It seemed indeed strange beyond any de- 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 24] 

scribing at first," she said, "but when we 
began to put ourselves in your place, and 
realize how much stranger it must seem to 
you, I fancy we forgot our own feelings a 
good deal, at least I know I did. It seemed 
then not so much astounding as interesting 
and touching beyond anything ever heard 01 
before." 

" But does it not come over you as astound- 
ing to sit at table with me, seeing who I am ? ' 

m You must remember that you do not seem 
so strange to us as we must to you," she 
answered. n We belong to a future of which 
you could not form an idea, a generation of 
which you knew nothing until you saw us. 
But you belong to a generation of which our 
forefathers were a part. We know all about 
it; the names of many of its members are 
household words with us. We have made a 
study of your ways of living and thinking; 
nothing you say or do surprises us, while 
we say and do nothing which does not teem 



242 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

strange to you. So you see, Mr. West, that 
if you feel that you can, in time, get accus- 
tomed to us, you must not be surprised that 
from the first we have scarcely found you 
strange at all." 

n \ had not thought of it in that way," I 
rej Jed. " There is indeed much in what you 
say. One can look back a thousand years 
easier than forward fifty. A century is not so 
very long a retrospect. I might have known 
your great grand-parents. Possibly I did. 
Did they live in Boston ? n 

* I believe so." 

"You are not sure, then?* 

"Yes," she replied. "Now I think, they 
cid." 

" I had a very large circle of acquaintances 
in the city," I said. w It is not unlikely that I 
knew or knew of some of them. Perhaps I may 
have known them well. Wouldn't it be inter- 
esting if I should chance to be able to tell 
you all about your great grand-father, for 
instance? 19 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 243 

"Very interesting." 

* Do you know your genealogy well enough 
to tell me who your forbears were in the Boa- 
ton of my day.* 

" Oh, yes." 

w Perhaps, then, you will sometime tell me 
what some of their names were." 

She was engrossed in arranging a trouble* 
some spray of green and did not reply at once. 
Steps upon the stairway indicated that the 
other members of the family were descending. 

* Perhaps, sometime," she said. 

After breakfast, Dr. Leete suggested taking 
me to inspect the central warehouse and ob- 
serve actually in operation the machinery of 
distribution, which Edith had described to me. 
As we walked away from the house I said, 
w It is now several days that I have been liv- 
ing in your household on a most extraordinary 
tooting, or rather on none at all. I have not 
spoken of this aspect of my position before 
because there were so many other aspects yet 



144 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

more extraordinary. But now that I am 
beginning a little to feel my feet under me, 
and to realize that, however I came here, I 
am here, and must make the best of it, I 
must speak to you on this point." 

"As for your being a guest in my house," 
replied Dr. Leete, "I pray you not to begin to 
be uneasy on that point, for I mean to keep you 
a long time yet. With all your modesty, you 
can but realize that such a guest as your- 
self is an acquisition not willingly to be 
parted with." 

"Thanks, doctor," I said. "It would be 
absurd, certainly, for me to affect any over- 
sensitiveness about accepting the temporary 
hospitality of one to whom I owe it that I am 
not still awaiting the end of the world in a 
living tomb. But if I am to be a permanent 
citizen of this century I must have some stand- 
ing in it. Now, in my time a person more or 
less entering the world, however he got in, 
would not be noticed in the unorganized 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 245 

throng of men, and might make a place for 
himself anywhere he chose if he were strong 
enough. But nowadays every bod)' is a part 
of a system with a distinct place and func- 
tion. I am outside the system, and don't 
see how I can get in ; there seems no way 
to get in, except to be born in or to come in 
as an emigrant from some other system. " 

Dr. Leete laughed heartily. 

W I admit," he said, "that our system is de- 
fective in lacking provision for cases like 
yours, but you see nobody anticipated addi- 
tions to the world except by the usual process. 
You need, however, have no fear that we shall 
be unable to provide both a place and occu- 
pation for you in due time. You have as yet 
been brought in contact only with the members 
of my family, but you must not suppose that I 
have kept you a secret. On the contrary, 
your case, even before your resuscitation, and 
vastly more since, has excited the profoundeat 
interest in the nation. In virw of your preca- 



246 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

rious nervous condition, it was thought best 
that I should take exclusive charge of you at 
first, and that you should, through me and my 
family, receive some general idea of the sort 
of world you had come back to before you 
began to make the acquaintance generally of 
its inhabitants. As to finding a function for 
you in society, there was no hesitation as to 
what that would be. Few of us have it in our 
power to confer so great a service on the nation 
as you will be able to when you leave my 
roof, which, however, you must not think of 
doing for a good time yet." 

"What can I possibly do? " I asked. w Per- 
haps you imagine I have some trade or art or 
special skill. I assure you I have none what- 
ever. I never earned a dollar in my life or 
did an hour's work. I am strong, and might 
be a common laborer, but nothing more." 

"If that were the most efficient service you 
were able to render the nation, you would find 
that avocation considered quite as respectable 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 247 

as any other," replied Dr. Leete ; M but you can 
do something else better. You are easily the 
master of all our historians on questions relat- 
ing to the social condition of the latter part of 
the nineteenth century, to us one of the most 
absorbingly interesting periods of history ; and 
whenever in due time you have sufficiently 
familiarized yourself with our institutions, and 
an; willing to teach us something concerning 
those of your day, you will find an historical 
lectureship in one of our colleges awaiting 
you." 

"Very good! very good, indeed," I said, 
much relieved by so practical a suggestion on 
a point which had begun to trouble me. 
" If your people are really so much interested 
in the nineteenth century, there will indeed be 
an occupation ready made for me. I don't 
think there is anything else that I could possi- 
bly earn my salt at, but I certainly may claim 
without conceit to have some special qualifica- 
tions for such a post as you describe/* 



248 LOOKING BACKWARD. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

T FOUND the processes at the warehouse 

. quite as interesting as Edith had describee 
them, and became even enthusiastic over the 
truly remarkable illustration which is seen 
there of the prodigiously multiplied elliciency 
which perfect organization can give to labor. 
It is like ? gigantic mill, into the hopper of 
which g^ods are being constantly poured by 
the train-load and ship-load, to issue at the 
other end in packages of pounds and ounces, 
yards and inches, pints and gallons, corre- 
sponding to the infinitely complex personal 
needs of half a million people. Dr. Leete, 
with the assistance of data furnished by me as 
to the way goods were sold in my day, figured 
out some astounding results in the way of the 
economies effected by the modern system. 
As we set out homeward, I said : " After 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 249 

what I have seen to-day, together with what 
you have told me, and what I learned under 
Miss Lecte's tutelage at the sample store, I 
have a tolerably clear idea of your system 
of distribution, and how it enables you to 
dispense with a circulating medium. But I 
should like very much to know something 
more about your system of production. You 
have told me in general how your industrial 
army is levied and organized, but who directs 
its efforts? What supreme authority deter- 
mines what shall be done in every department 
so that enough of everything is produced and 
yet no labor wasted? It seems to me that this 
must be a wonderfully complex and difficult 
function, requiring very unusual endowments." 
w Does it indeed seem so to you ? " responded 
Dr. Leete. " I assure you that it is nothing of 
the kind, but on the other hand so simple, and 
depending on principles so obvious and easily 
applied, that the functionaries at Washington 
to whom it is trusted require to be nothing 



250 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

more than men of fair abilities to discharge it 
to the entire satisfaction of the nation. The 
machine which they direct is indeed a vast 
one, but so logical in its principles and direct 
\ and simple in its workings, that it all but runs 
itself, and nobody but a fool could derange it, 
as I think you will agree after a few words of 
explanation. Since you already have a pretty 
good idea of the working of the distributive 
system, let us begin at that end. Even in 
your day statisticians were able to tell you the 
number of yards of cotton, velvet, woollen, the 
number of barrels of flour, potatoes, butter, 
number of pairs of shoes, hats, and umbrellas 
annually consumed by the nation. Owing to 
the fact that production was in private hands, 
and that there was no way of getting statistics 
of actual distribution, these figures were not 
exact, but they were nearly so. Now that 
every pin which is given out from a national 
warehouse is recorded, of course the figures 
of consumption for any week, month, or year, 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 2$1 

in the possession of the department of distribu- 
tion at the end of that period, are precise. On 
these figures, allowing for tendencies to in- 
crease or decrease and for any special causes 
likely to affect demand, the estimates, say for 
a year ahead, are based. These estimates, 
with a proper margin for security, having 
been accepted by the general administration, 
the responsibility of the distributive depart- 
ment ceases until the goods are delivered to it. 
I speak of the estimates being furnished for an 
entire year ahead, but in reality they cover 
that much time only in case of the great sta- 
ples for which the demand can be calculated 
on as steady. In the great majority of smaller 
industries, for the products of which popular 
taste fluctuates and novelty is frequently re- 
hired, production is kept barely ahead of con- 
sumption, the distributive department furnish- 
ing frequent estimates based on the weekly 
state of demand. 

" Now the entire field of productive and con- 



2$2 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

structure industry is divided into ten great 
departments, each representing a group of 
allied industries, each particular industry 
being in turn represented by a subordinate 
bureau, which has a complete record of the 
plant and force under its control, of the 
present product, and means of increasing it. 
The estimates of the distributive department, 
after adoption by the administration, are sent 
as mandates to the ten great departments, 
which allot them to the subordinate bureaus 
representing the particular industries, and 
these set the men at work. Each bureau is 
responsible for the task given it, and this 
responsibility is enforced by departmental 
oversight and that of the administration, nor 
does the distributive department accept the 
product without its own inspection ; while even 
if in the hands of the consumer an article turns 
out unlit, the system enables the fault to be 
traced back to the original workman. The 
production of the commodities for actual pub- 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 253 

lie consumption does not, of course, require 
by any means all the national force of work- 
ers. After the necessary contingents have been 
detailed for the various industries, the amount 
of labor left for other employment is expended 
in creating fixed capital, such as buildings, 
machinery, engineering works, and so forth." 

"One point occurs to me," I said, " on which 
I should think there might be dissatisfaction. 
Where there is no opportunity for private 
enterprise, how is there any assurance that 
the claims of small minorities of the people 
to have articles produced, for which there 
is no wide demand, will be respected? An 
official decree at any moment may deprive 
them of the means of gratifying some special 
taste, merely because the majority does not 
snare it." 

n That would be tyranny indeed," replied 
Dr. Leete, * and you may be very sure that it 
does not happen with us, to whom liberty is as 
dear as equality or fraternity. A* you come 



254 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

to know our system better, you will see that 
our officials are in fact, and not merely in 
name, the agents and servants of the people. 
The administration has no power to stop the 
production of any commodity for which there 
continues to be a demand. Suppose the 
demand for any article declines to such a 
point that its production becomes very costly. 
The price has to be raised in proportion, of 
course, but as long as the consumer cares to 
pay it, the production goes on. Again, sup- 
pose an article not before produced is de- 
manded. If the administration doubts the 
reality of the demand, a popular petition guar- 
anteeing a certain basis of consumption com- 
pels it to produce the desired article. A 
government, or a majority, which should un- 
dertake to tell the people, or a minority, what 
they were to eat, drink, or wear, as I believe 
governments in America did in' your day, 
would be regarded as a curious anachronism 
indeed. Possibly, you had reasons for tolerat- 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 255 

ing these infringements of personal independ- 
ence, but we should not think them endur- 
able. I am glad you raised this point, for it 
has given me a chance to show you how much 
more direct and efficient is the control over 
production exercised by the individual citizen 
now than it was in your day, when what you 
called private initiative prevailed, though it 
should have been called capitalist initiative, 
for the average private citizen had little enough 
share in it." 

" You speak of raising the price of costly 
articles," I said. " How can prices be regu- 
lated in a country where there is no competi- 
tion between buyers or sellers ? w 

* Just as they were with you," replied Dr. 
Leete. "You think that needs explaining," 
he added, as I looked incredulous, "but the 
explanation need not be long ; the cost of the 
labor which produced it was recognized as the 
legitimate basis of the price of an article in 
your day, and so it is in ours. In your day, it 



256 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

was the difference in wages that made the dif- 
ference in the cost of labor, now it is the rela- 
tive number of hours constituting a day's work 
in different trades, the maintenance of the 
worker being equal in all cases. The cost 
of a man's work in a trade so difficult that in 
order to attract volunteers the hours have to be 
fixed at four a day, is twice as great as that in 
a trade where the men work eight hours. 
The result as to the cost of labor, you see, is 
just the same as if the man working four 
hours were paid, under your system, twice 
the wages the other gets. This calculation 
applied to the labor employed in the various 
processes of a manufactured article gives its 
price relatively to other articles. Besides the 
cost of production and transportation, the fac- 
tor of scarcity affects the prices of some com- 
modities. As regards the great staples of life, 
of which an abundance can always be secured, 
scarcity is eliminated as a factor. There is' 
always a large surplus kept on hand from 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 257 

which any fluctuations of demand or supply 
can be corrected, even in most cases of bad 
crops. The prices of the staples grow less 
year by year, but rarely, if ever, rise. There 
ire, however, certain classes of articles per- 
manently, and others temporarily, unequal to 
the demand, as, for example, fresh fish or 
dairy products in the latter category, and the 
products of high skill and rare materials in the 
other. All that can be done here is to equal- 
ize the inconvenience of the scarcity. This is 
done by temporarily raising the price if the 
scarcity be temporary, or fixing it high if it be 
permanent. High prices in your day meant 
restriction of the articles affected to the 
rich, but nowadays, when the means of all are 
the same, the effect is only that those to whom 
♦.he articles seem most desirable are the ones 
who purchase them. I have given you now 
some gci.eral notion of our system of produc- 
tion, as well as distribution. Do you find it 
as complex as you expected?" 



358 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

I admitted that nothing could be much 
simpler. 

M I am sure," said Dr. Leete, "that it is 
within the truth to say that the head of one of 
the myriad private businesses of your day, 
who had to maintain sleepless vigilance against 
the fluctuations of the market, the machina- 
tion.* of his rivals, and the failure of his debt- 
ors, had a far more trying task than the group 
of men at Washington who, nowadays, direct 
the industries of the entire nation. All this 
merely shows, my dear fellow, how much 
easier it is to do things the right way than 
the wrong. It is easier for a general up in a 
balloon, with perfect survey of the field, to 
manoeuvre a million men to victory than for a 
sergeant to manage a platoon in a thicket." 

"The general of this army, including the 
flower of the manhood of the nation, must be 
the foremost man in the country, really greater 
even than the president of the United States," 
I said. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. %%<) 

"He is the president of the United States," 
replied Dr. Leete ; "or rather the most import- 
ant function of the presidency is the headship 
of the industrial array." 

n How is he chosen?" I asked. 

W I explained to you before," replied Dr. 
Leete, n when I was describing the force of 
the motive of emulation among all grades of 
the industrial army, that the line of promotion 
for the meritorious lies through three grades 
to the officer's grade, and thence up through 
the lieutenancies to the captaincy, or foreman- 
ship, and superintendency or colonel's rank. 
Next, with an intervening grade in some 
of the larger trades, comes the general of 
the guild, under whose immediate control all 
the operations of the trade are conducted. 
This officer is at the head of the national bu- 
reau representing his trade, and is responsible 
for its work to the administration. The ge 
eral of his guild holds a splendid position, an 
one which amply satisfies the ambition of most^ 



l6o LOOKING BACKWARD. 



j men, but above hi3 rank, which may be com- 






pared, to follow the military analogies familiar 
/ to you, to that of a general of division or 
/ major-general, is that of the chiefs of the ten 
great departments or groups of allied trades. 
The chiefs of these ten grand divisions of the 
industrial army may be compared to your 
commanders of army corps, or lieutenant-gen- 
erals, each having from a dozen to a score of 
generals of separate guilds reporting to him. 
Above these ten great officers, who form his 
council, is the general-in-chief, who is the 
president of the United States. 

"The general-in-chief of the industrial army 
must have passed through all the grades below 
him, from the common laborers up. Let 
us see how he rises. As I have told you, it is 
simply by the excellence of his record as 
a worker that one rises through the grades 
of the privates and becomes a candidate for a 
lieutenancy. Through the lieutenancies, he 
rises to the colonelcy or superintendent's posi- 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 26l 

tion, by appointment from above, strictly lim- 
ited tc the candidates of the best records* 
The general of the guild appoints to the 
ranks under him, but he himself is not ap- 
1 pointed, but chosen by suffrage." 
* w By suffrage 1 " I exclaimed. " Is not that 
ruinous to the discipline of the guild, by tempt- 
ing the candidates to intrigue for the support of 
the workers under them ? n 

"So it would be, no doubt," replied Dr. 
Leete, "if the workers had any suffrage to 
exercise, or anything to say about the choice. 
But they have nothing. Just here comes in a 
peculiarity of our system. The general of the 
guild is chosen from among the superintend- 
cnfc by vote of the honorary members of the 
guild, that is. of those who have served their 
time in th e guild and rece ived their discharger 
As you know, at the age of forty-five we are 
mustered out of the army of industry, and 
have the residue of life for the pursuit of our 
own improvement or recreation. Of course, 



262 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

however, the associations of our active life- 
time retain a powerful hold on us. The com- 
panionships we formed then remain our com 
panionships till the end of life. We always 
continue honorary members of our former 
guilds, and retain the keenest and most jealous 
interest in their welfare and repute in the 
hands of the following generation. In the 
clubs maintained by the honorary members 
of the several guilds, in which we meet socially, 
there are no topics of conversation so common 
as those which relate to these matters, and the 
young aspirants for guild leadership who can 
pass the criticism of us old fellows are likely 
to be pretty well equipped. Recognizing this 
fact, the nation entrusts to the honorary mem- 
bers of each guild the election of its general, 
And I venture to claim that no previous form 
of society could have developed a body of 
electors so ideally adapted to their office, as 
regards absolute impartiality, knowledge of 
the special qualifications and record of candi- 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 263 

dates, solicitude for the best result, and com- 
plete absence of self-interest. 

"Each of the ten lieutenant-generals or heads 
of departments, is himself elected from among 
the generals of the guilds grouped as a depart- 
ment, by vote of the honorary members of the 
guilds thus grouped. Of course there is a 
tendency on the part of each guild to rote for 
its own general, but no guild of any group 
has nearly enough votes to elect a man not 
supported by most of the others. I assure 
you that these elections are exceedingly 
lively." 

"The president, I suppose, is selected from 
among the ten heads of the great departments," 
I suggested. 

w Precisely, but the heads of departments are 
not eligible to the presidency till they have 
been a certain number of years out of 
office. It is rarely that a man passes through 
all the grades to the headship of a department 
much before he is forty, and at the end of a 



264 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

five years term he is usually forty-five. If 
more, he still serves through his term, and if 
less, he is nevertheless discharged from the 
industrial army at its termination. It would 
not do for him to return to the ranks. The in- 
terval before he is a candidate for the presi- 
dency is intended to give time for him to 
recognize fully that he has returned into the 
general mass of the nation, and is identified 
with it rather than with the industrial army. 
Moreover, it is expected that he will employ 
this period in studying the general condition of 
the army, instead of that of the special group 
of guilds of which he was the head. From 
among the former heads of departments who 
may be eligible at the time, the president is 
elected by vote of all the men of the nation 
who are not connected with the industrial 
army." 

" Theji rmy is n ot allowed to voteforj^resi- 
dent?" 

w Certainly not. That would be perilous to 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 265 

its discipline, which it is the business of the 
president to maintain as the representative 
of the nation at large. The president is 
usually not far from fifty when elected, and 
serves five years, forming an honorable excep- 
tion to the rule of retirement at forty-five. At 
the end of his term of oflicc, a national Con- 
gress is called to receive his report and 
approve or condemn it. If it is approved, 
Congress usually elects him to represent the 
nation for five years more in the international 
council. Congress, I should also say, passes 
on the reports of the outgoing heads of depart- 
ments, and a disapproval renders any one of 
them ineligible for president. But it is rare, 
indeed, that the nation has occasion for othei 
sentiments than those of gratitude toward its 
high officers. As to their ability, to have risen 
from the ranks by tests so various and severe 
to their positions, is proof in itself of extraor- 
dinary qualities, while as to faithfulness, our 
nodal system leaves them absolutely without 



266 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

m 

any other motive than that of winning the 
esteem of their fellow citizens. Corruption is 
impossible in a society where there is neither 
poverty to be bribed or wealth to bribe, while 
as to demagoguery or intrigue for office, the 
conditions of promotion render them out of the 
question." 

"One point I do not quite understand/* I 
said. w Are the members of the liberal profes- 
sions eligible to the presidency; and if so, 
how are they ranked with those who pursue the 
industries proper? " 

"They have no ranking with them," replied 
Dr. Leete. " The members of the technical 
professions, such as engineers and architects, 
have a ranking with the constructive guilds ; 
but the members of the liberal professions, the 
doctors, teachers, as well as the artists and men 
of letters who obtain remissions of industrial 
service, do not belong to the industrial army. 
On this ground they vote for the president, 
but are not eligible to his office. One of its 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 3&J 

main duties being the control and discipline of 
the industrial array, it is esssential that the 
president should have passed through q}l its 
grades to understand his business." 

"That is reasonable," I said; "but if the 
doctors and teachers do not know enough of 
industry to be president, neither, I should think, 
can the president know enough of medicine 
and education to control those departments." 

" No more does he," was the reply. " Ex- 
cept in the general way that he is responsible 
for the enforcement of the laws as to all 
classes, the president has nothing to do with 
the faculties of medicine and education, which 



are controlled by boards of regentsol their 
'own, in which the president is ex-ollicio chair- 
[an and has th e casting vote. These regents, 
who, of course, are responsible to Congress, 
are chosen by the honorary members of the 
guilds of education and medicine, the retired 
teachers and doctors of the country." 
"Do you know," I said, "the method of 



368 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

electing officials by votes of the retired mem- 
bers of the guilds is nothing more than the 
application on a national scale of the plan of 
government by alumni, which we used to a 
slight extent occasionally in the management 
of our higher educational institutions." 

"Did you, indeed?" exclaimed Dr. Leete, 
with animation. "That is quite new to me, 
and I fancy will be to most of us, and of much 
interest as well. There has been great dis- 
cussion as to the germ of the idea, and we fan- 
cied that there was for once something new 
under the sun. Well I well I In your higher 
educational institutions I that is interesting in- 
deed. You must tell me more of that." 

" Truly, there is very little more to tell than 
I have told already," I replied. "If we had 
the germ of your idea, it was but as a germ/ 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 269 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

nr^HAT evening I sat up for some time after 
•*■ the ladies had retired, talking with Dr. 
Lecte about the effect of the plan of exempt- 
ing men from further service to the nation 
after the age of forty-five, a point brought up 
by his account of the part taken by the retired 
citizens in the government. 

"At forty-five," said I, w a man still has ten 
years of good manual labor in him, and twice 
ten years of good intellectual service. To 
be superannuated at that age and laid on the 
shelf must be regarded rather as a hardship 
than a favor by men of energetic dispositions." 

"My dear Mr. West,* exclaimed Dr. Lecte, 
beaming upon me, "you cannot have any 
idea of the piquancy your nineteenth century 
ideas have for us of this day, the rare quaint- 
nesa of their effect. Know, oh child of an- 



*7<> LOOKING BACKWARD. 

other race and yet the same, that the labor we 
have to render as our part in securing for the 
nation the means of a comfortable physical 
existence, is by no means regarded as the 
most important, the most interesting, or the 
most dignified employment of our powers. 
We look upon it as a necessary duty to be dis- 
charged before we can fully devote ourselves 
to the higher exercise of our faculties, the 
intellectual and spiritual enjoyments and pur- 
suits which alone mean life. Everything pos- 
sible is indeed done by the just distribution of 
burdens, and by all manner of special attrac- 
tions and incentives to relieve our labor of 
irksomeness, and, except in a comparative 
sense, it is not usually irksome, and is often 
inspiring. But it is not our labor, but the 
higher and larger activities which the perform- 
ance of our task will leave us free to enter 
upon, that are considered the main business of 
existence. 

"Of course not all, nor the majority, have 



LOOKING BACKWARD. *7l 

those scientific, artistic, literary, or scholarly 
interests which make leisure the one thing 
valuable to their possessors. Many look upon 
the last half of life chiefly as a period for enjoy- 
ment of other sorts ; for travel, for social re- 
laxation in the company of their lifetime 
friends; a time for the cultivation of all 
manner of personal idiosyncracies and special 
tastes, and the pursuit of every imaginable 
form of recreation ; in a word, a time for the 
leisurely and unperturbed appreciation of the 
good things of the world which they have 
helped to create. But whatever the differences 
between our individual tastes as to the use we 
shall put our leisure to, we all agree in look- 
ing forward to the date of our discharge as the 
time when we shall first enter upon the full 
enjoyment of our birthright, the period when 
we shall first really attain our majority and be- 
come enfranchised from discipline and control, 
with the fee of our lives vested in ourselves. 
As eager boys in your day anticipated twenty- 



»7* LOOKING BACKWARD. 

one, so men nowadays look forward to forty- 
five. At twenty-one we become men, but at 
forty-five we renew youth. Middle age, and 
what j'ou would have called old age, are con- 
sidered, rather than youth, the enviable time 
of life. Thanks to the better conditions of 
existence nowadays, and above all the free- 
dom of every one from care, old age ap- 
proaches many years later and has an aspect 
far more benign than in past times. Persons 
of average constitution usually live to eighty- 
five or ninety, and at forty-five we are physi- 
cally and mentally younger, I fancy, than you. 
were at thirty-five. It is a strange reflection 
that at forty-five, when we are just entering 
upon the most enjoyable period of life, you 
already began to think of growing old and to 
look backward. With you it was the fore- 
noon, but with us it is the afternoon which is 
the brighter half of life." 

After this I remember that our talk branched 
into the subject of popular sports and rccrea- 



t- 




LOOKING BACKWARD. «73 

tions at the present time as compared with 
those of the nineteenth century. 

* In one respect/' said Dr. Leete, n there is 
a marked difference. The professional sports- 
men, which were such a curious feature of 
your day, we have nothing answering to, nor 
are the prizes for which our athletes contend 
money prizes, as with you. Our contests are 
always for glory only. The generous rivalry 
existing between the various guilds, and the 
loyalty of each worker to his own, afford a 
constant stimulation to all sorts of games and 
matches by sea and land, in which the young 
men take scarcely more interest than the hon- 
orary guildsmcn who have served their time. 
The guild yacht races off Marblchead take 
place next week and you will be able to judge 
for yourself of the popular enthusiasm which 
such events nowadays call out as compared 
with your day. The demand for 'pattern et 
eircenscs f preferred by thq Roman populace 
is recognized nowadays as a wholly reason* 



274 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

ble one. If bread is the first necessity of life, 
recreation is a close second, and the nation 
caters for both. Americans of the nineteenth 
century were as unfortunate in lacking an ade- 
quate provision for the one sort of need as for 
the other. Even if the people of that period 
had enjoyed larger leisure, they would, I 
fancy, have often been at loss how to pass it 
agreeably. We are never in that predica 
ment." 



looking backward. 275 

\ 



CHAPTER XIX. 

TN the course of an early morning constitu- 
■*• tional, I visited Charlestown. Among the 
changes, too numerous to attempt to indicate, 
which mark the lapse of a century in that 
quarter, I particularly noted the total disap- 
pearance of the old state prison. 

"That went before my day, but I remember 
hearing about it," said Dr. Leete, when I 
alluded to the fact at the breakfast table. 
"We have no jails nowadays. All cases oil / 

atavism are treated in the hospitals." I 

" Of atavism ! " I exclaimed, staring. 
" Why, yes," replied Dr. Leete. n The idea 

of dealing punitively with those unfortunates 

was given up at least fifty years ago, and I 

think more." 

n I don't quite understand you,* I said. 

" Atavism in my day was a word applied to 



2*j6 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

the cases of persons in whom some ttait of a 
remote ancestor recurred in a noticeable man- 
ner. Am I to understand that crime is nowa- 
days looked upon as the recurrence of an an- 
cestral trait? " 

w I beg your pardon, " said Dr. Leete, with 
a smile half humorous, half deprecating, "but 
since you have so explicitly asked the ques- 
tion, I am forced to say that the fact is pre- 
cisely that." 

After what I had already learned of the 
moral contrasts between the nineteenth and 
the twentieth centuries, it was doubtless ab- 
surd in me to begin to develop sensitiveness 
on the subject, and probably if Dr. Leete had 
not spoken with that apologetic air and Mrs. 
Leete and Edith shown a corresponding em- 
barrassment, I should not have flushed, as I 
was conscious I did. 

"I was not in much danger of being vain of 
my generation before," I said ; "but, really — " 

"This is your generation, Mr. West," inter- 



LOOKING BACKWARD. *77 

posed Edith. w It is the one in which you arc 
living you know, and it is only because we 
are alive now that we call it ours." 

w Thank you. I will try to think of it so," I 
said, and as my eyes met hers their expression 
quite cured my senseless sensitiveness. "Af- 
ter all,*' I 6aid, with a laugh, "I was brought 
up a Calvinist, and ought not to be startled to 
hear crime spoken of as an ancestral trait." 

w ln point of fact," said Dr. Leete, "our 
use of the word is no reflection at all on your 
generation, if, begging Edith's pardon, we 
may call it yours, so far as seeming to imply 
that we think ourselves, apart from our circum- 
stances, better than you were. In your day 
fully nineteen twentieths of the crime, using 
the word broadly to include all sorts of misde- 
meanors, resulted from the inequality in the 
possessions of individuals ; want tempted the 
poor, lust of greater gains, or the desire to 
preserve former gains, tempted the well-to- 
do. Direcdy or indirectly, the desire for 



278 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

money, which then meant every good thing 
was the motive of all this crime, the taproot c x' 
a vast poison growth, which the machinery of 
law, courts, and police could barely prevent 
from choking your civilization outright. 
When we made the nation the sole trustee 
of the wealth of the people, and guaranteed 
to all abundant maintenance, on the one hano 
abolishing want, and on the other checking 
the accumulation of riches, we cut this root 
and the poison tree that overshadowed your 
society, withered like Jonah's gourd, in a day. 
As for the comparatively small class of vio- 
lent crimes against persons, unconnected with 
any idea of gain, they were almost wholly 
confined, even in your day, to the ignorant 
and bestial, and in these days when educa- 
tion and good manners are not the monopoly 
of a few, but universal, such atrocities are 
scarcely ever heard of. You now see why 
the word "atavism" is used for crime. It is 
because nearly all forms of crime known to 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 279 

you are motiveless now, and when they appear, 
can only be explained as the outcropping of 
ancestral traits. You used to call persons 
who stole, evidently without any rational mo- 
tive, kleptomaniacs, and when the case was 
clear deemed it absurd to punish them as 
thieves. Your attitude toward the genuine 
kleptomaniac is precisely ours toward the vic- 
tim of atavism, an attitude of compassion and 
firm but gentle restraint." 

n Your courts must have an easy time of it," I 
observed. n With no private property to speak 
of, no disputes between citizens over business 
relations, no real estate to divide or debts to 
collect, there must be absolutely no civil busi- 
ness at all for them ; and with no offences 
against property, and mighty few of any sort 
to provide criminal cases, I should think you 
might almost do without judges and lawyers 
altogether." 

"We do without the lawyers, certainly," 
was Dr. Leete's reply. "It would not seem 



2&> LOOKING BACKWARD. 

reasonable to us, in a case where the only 
interest of the nation is to find out the truth, 
that persons should take part in the proceed- 
ings who had an acknowledged motive to 
color it." 

"But who defends the accused?" 

w If he is a criminal he needs no defence, for 
he pleads guilty in most instances," replied Dr. 
Leete. "The plea of the accused is not a 
mere formality with us as with you. It is 
usually the end of the case." 

w You don't mean that the man who pleads 
not guilty is thereupon discharged ? " 

"No, I do not mean that. He is not ac- 
cused on light grounds, and if he denies his 
guilt, must still be tried. But trials are few, 
for in most cases the guilty man pleads guilty. 
When he makes a false plea and is clearly 
proved guilty, his penalty is doubled. False- 
hood is, however, so despised among us that 
few offenders would lie to save themselves." 

"That is the most astounding thing yon 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 28 1 

have yet told me," I exclaimed. * If lying 
has gone out of fashion, this is indeed the 
'new heavens and the new earth wherein 
dwelleth righteousness/ which the prophet 
foretold. " 

" Such is, in fact, the belief of some persons 
nowadays," was the doctor's answer. * They 
hold that we have entered upon the millen- 
nium, and the theory from their point of view 
does not lack plausibility. But as to your 
astonishment at finding that the world has out- 
grown lying, there is really no ground for it. 
Falsehood, even in your day, was not common 
between gentlemen and ladies, social equals. 
The lie of fear was the refuge of cowardice, 
and the lie of fraud the device of the cheat. 
The inequalities of men and the lust of acqui- 
sition offered a constant premium on lying at 
that time. Yet even then, the man who nei- 
ther feared another nor desired to defraud him, 
scorned falsehood. Because we are now all 
social equals, and no man either has anything 



282 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

to fear from another or can gain anything by 
deceiving him, the contempt of falsehood is so 
universal that it is rarely, as I told you, that 
even a criminal in other respects will be found 
willing to lie. When, however, a plea of 
not guilty is returned, the judge appoints two 
colleagues to state the opposite sides of the 
case. How far these men are from being like 
your hired advocates and prosecutors, deter- 
mined to acquit or convict, may appear from 
the fact that unless both agree that the verdict 
found is just, the case is tried over, while any- 
thing like bias in the tone of either of the 
judges stating the case would be a shocking 
scandal." 

w Do I understand," I said, w that it is a judge 
who states each side of the case as well as a 
judge who hears it? n 

w Certainly. The judges take turns in serv- 
ing on the bench and at the bar, and are ex- 
pected to maintain the judicial temper equally 
whether in stating or deciding a case. The 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 383 

system is indeed in effect that of trial by three 
judges occupying different points of view as to 
the case. When they agree upon a verdict, 
we believe it to be as near to absolute truth as 
men well can come." 
n You have given up the jury system, then?* 
" It was well enough as a corrective in the 
days of hired advocates, and a bench some- 
times venal, and often with a tenure that made 
it dependent, but is needless now. No con- 
ceivable motive but justice could actuate our 
judges." 
"How arc these magistrates selected?* 
"They are an honorable exception to the 
rule which discharges all men from service at 
the age of forty-five. The president of the 
nation appoints the necessary judges year by 
year from the class reaching that age. The 
number appointed is, of course, exceedingly 
few, and the honor so high that it is held an 
offset to the additional term of service which 
follows, and though a judge's appointment 



284 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

may be declined, it rarely is. The term is five 
years, without eligibility to reappointment 
The members of the Supreme Court, which is 
the guardian of the constitution, are selected 
from among the lower judges. When a va- 
cancy in that court occurs, those of the lower 
judges, whose terms expire that year, select, 
as their last official act, the one of their col- 
leagues left on the bench whom they deem 
fittest to fill it." 

w There being no legal profession to serve as 
a school for judges," I said, "they must, of 
course, come directly from the law school to 
the bench." 

"We have no such things as law schools," 
replied the doctor, smiling. "The law as a 
special science is obsolete. It was a system of 
casuistry which the elaborate artificiality of the 
old order of society absolutely required to inter- 
pret it, but only a few of the plainest and simplest 
legal maxims have any application to the exist- 
ing state of the world. Everything touching the 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 285 

relations of men to one another is now simpler, 
beyond any comparison, than in your day. 
We should have no sort of use for the hair- 
splitting experts who presided and argued in 
your courts. You must not imagine, however, 
that we have any disrespect for those ancient 
worthies because we have no use for them. 
On the contrary, we entertain an unfeigned 
respect, amounting almost to awe, for the men 
who alone understood and were able to ex- 
pound the interminable complexity of the 
rights of property, and the relations of com- 
mercial and personal dependence involved in 
your system. What, indeed, could possibly 
give a more powerful impression of the in- 
tricacy and artificiality of that system than 
the fact that it was necessary to set apart from 
other pursuits the cream of the intellect of 
every generation, in order to provide a body of 
pundits able to make it even vaguely intelligi- 
ble to those whose fates it determined. The 
treatises of your great lawyers, the works of 



286 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

Blackstone and Chitty, of Story and Parsons, 
stand in our museums, side by side with the 
tomes of Duns Scotus and his fellow scho- 
lastics, as curious monuments of intellectual 
subtlety devoted to subjects equally remote 
from the interests of modern men. Our judges 
are simply widely informed, judicious, and 
discreet men of ripe years." 

" I should not fail to speak of one important 
function of the minor judges," added Dr. 
Leete. "This is to adjudicate all cases 
where a private of the industrial army makes 
a complaint of unfairness against an officer. 
All such questions are heard and settled with- 
out appeal by a single judge, three judges 
being required only in graver cases." 

"There must be need of such a tribunal in 
your system, for under it a man who is treated 
unfairly cannot leave his place as with us." 

" Certainly he can," replied Dr. Leete. " Not 
only is a man always sure of a fair hearing 
and redress in case of actual oppression, 



LOOKING BACKWARD. ity 

but if his relations with his foreman or chief 
are unpleasant, he can secure a transfer on 
application. Under your system a man could 
indeed leave work if he did not like his em- 
ployer, but he left his means of support at the 
same time. One of our workmen, however, 
who finds himself disagreeably situated is not 
obliged to risk his means of subsistence to find 
fair play. The efficiency of industry requires 
the strictest discipline in the army of labor, 
but the claim of the workman to just and con- 
siderate treatment is backed by the whole power 

• 

of the nation. The officer commands and the 
private obeys, but no officer is so high that he 
would dare display an overbearing manner 
toward a workman of the lowest class. As 
for churlishness or rudeness by an official 
of any sort, in his relations to the public, not 
one among minor offences is more sure of 
a prompt penalty than this. Not only justice 
but civility is enforced by our judges in all 
sorts of intercourse. No value of service is 



288 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

accepted as a set off to boorish or offensive 
manners." 

It occurred to me, as Dr. Leete was speak- 
ing, that in all his talk I had heard much of 
the nation and nothing of the state govern- 
ments. Had the organization of the nation as 
an industrial unit done away with the states? 
I asked. 

n Necessarily," he replied. " The state gov- 
ernments would have interfered with the con- 
trol and discipline of the industrial army, 
which, of course, required to be central and 
uniform. Even if the state governments had 
not become inconvenient for other reasons, 
they were rendered superfluous by the prodig- 
ious simplification in the task of government 
since your day. Almost the sole function of 
the administration now is that of directing the 
industries of the countr y. Most of the pur- 
poses for which governments formerly existed 
no longer remain to be subserved. We have 
no army or navy, and no military organixa- 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 289 

lion. We have no departments of state or 
treasury, no excise or revenue services, no 
taxes or tax collectors. The only function 
proper of government, as known Jft yDliiJYhlch 
still remains, is the judiciary.and police system,. 
I have already explained to you how simple hi 
our judicial system as compared with you! 
huge and complex machine. Of course the 
same absence of crime and temptation to it 
which make the duties of judges so light, 
reduces the number and dudes of the police to 
a minimum." 

"But with no state legislatures, and Con- 
gress meeting only once in five years, how do 
you get your legislation done? " 

w We have no legislation," replied Dr. Leete, 
— " that is, next to none. It is rarely that Con- 
gress, even when it meets, considers any new 
laws of consequence, and then it only has 
power to commend them to the following Con- 
gress, lest anything be done hastily. If you 
will consider a moment, Mr. West, you will 



29O LOOKING BACKWARD. 

see that we have nothing to make laws about. 
The fundamental principles on which out 
society* is founded settle for all time the strifes 
and misundestandings which, in your day, 
called for legislation. 

"Fully ninety-nine hundredths of the laws 
of that time concerned the definition and pro- 
tection of private property and the relations of 
buyers and sellers. There is neither private 
property, beyond personal belongings, now, 
nor buying and selling, and therefore the oc- 
casion of nearly all the legislation formerly 
necessary has passed away. Formerly, society 
was a pyramid poised on its apex. All the 
gravitations of human nature were constantly 
tending to topple it over, and it could be main- 
tained upright, or rather upwrong (if you will 
pardon the feeble witticism) by an elaborate 
system of constantly renewed props and but- 
tresses and guy-ropes in the form of laws. A 
central Congress and forty state legislatures 
turaing out some twenty thousand laws a year, 



A.OUAJAO BACKWARD. 291 

could not make new props fast enough to take 
the place of those which were constantly break- 
ing down or becoming ineffectual through some 
shifting of the strain. Now society rests on 
its base, and is in as little need of artificial 
supports as the everlasting hills." 

"But you have at least municipal govern- 
ments besides the one central authority ?" 

"Certainly, and they have important and 
extensive functions in looking out for the pub- 
lic comfort and recreation, and the improve- 
ment and embellishment of the villages and 
cities." 

"But having no control over the labor of 
tneir people, or means of hiring it, how can 
they do anything ? " 

"Every town or city is conceded the right 
to retain, for its own public works, a certain 
proportion of the quota of labor its citizens 
contribute to the nation. This proportion, 
being assigned it as so much credit, can be 
applied in any way desired.* 



2Q2 LOOKING BACKWARD. 



CHAPTER XX. 

^THHAT afternoon Edith casually inquired 
"*■ if I had yet revisited the underground 
chamber in the garden in which I had been 
found. 

* Not yet," I replied. w To be frank, I have 
shrunk thus far from doing so, lest the visit 
might revive old associations rather too strong- 
ly for my mental equilibrium." 

"Ah, yes!" she said, "I can imagine that 
you have done well to stay away. I ought to 
have thought of that." 

"No," I said, "I am glad you spoke of 
it. The danger, if there was any, existed only 
during the first day or two. Thanks to you, 
chiefly and always, I feel my footing now so 
firm in this new world, that if you will go 
with me to keep the ghosts off, I should really 
iike to visit the place this afternoon.* 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 293 

Edith demurred at first, but, finding that I 
was in earnest, consented to accompany me. 
The rampart of earth thrown up from the 
excavation was visible among the trees from 
the house, and a few steps brought us to the 
spot. All remained as it was at the point 
when work was interrupted by the discovery 
of the tenant of the chamber, save that the 
door had been opened and the slab from the 
roof replaced. Descending the sloping sides 
of the excavation, we went in at the door and 
stood within the dimly lighted room. 

Everything was just as I had beheld it last 
on that evening one hundred and thirteen years 
previous, just before closing my eyes for that 
long sleep. I stood for some time silently 
looking about me. I saw that my companion 
was furtively regarding me with an expression 
of awed and sympathetic curiosity. I put out 
my hand to her and she placed hers in it, the 
soft fingers responding with a reassuring pres- 
sure to my clasp. Finally she whispered. 



294 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

n Had we not better go out now ? You must 
not try yourself too far. Oh, how strange it 
must be to you ! " 

"On the contrary," I replied, "it does not 
seem strange ; that is the strangest part of it." 

" Not strange ? " she echoed. 

"Even so," I replied. "The emotions with 
which you evidently credit me, and which I 
anticipated would attend this visit, I simply do 
not feel. I realize all that these surroundings 
suggest, but without the agitation I expected. 
You can't be nearly as much surprised at this 
as I am myself. Ever since that terrible morn- 
ing when you came to my help, I have tried 
to avoid thinking of my former life, just as I 
have avoided coming here, for fear of the agi- 
tating effects. I am for all the world like a 
man who has permitted an injured limb to lie 
motionless under the impression that it is ex- 
quisitely sensitive, and on trying to move it 
finds that it is paralyzed." 

" Do you mean your memory is gone ? " 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 295 

"Not at all. I remember everything con- 
nected with my former life) but with a total 
lack of keen sensation. I remember it for 
clearness as if it had been but a day since 
ihen, but my feelings about what I remember 
are as faint as if to my consciousness, as well 
as in fact, a hundred years had intervened. 
Perhaps it is possible to explain this, too. 
The effect of change in surroundings is like 
that of lapse of time in making the past seem 
remote. When I first woke from that trance, 
my former life appeared as yesterday, but 
now, since I have learned to know my new sur- 
roundings, and to realize the prodigious 
changes that have transformed the world, I 
no longer find it hard, but very easy, to realize 
that I have slept a century. Can you conceive 
of such a thing as living a hundred years in 
.bur day 8? It really seems to me that I have 
done just that, and that it is this experience 
which has given so remote and unreal an 
appearance to my former life. Can you see 
how such a thing might be?" 



296 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

"I can conceive it," replied Edith, medita- 
tively, " and I think we ought all to be thank- 
ful that it is so, for it will save you much suf- 
fering, I am sure." 

"Imagine," I said, in an effort to explain, as 
much to myself as to her, the strangeness of 
my mental condition, "that a man first heard 
of a bereavement many, many years, half a 
lifetime perhaps, after the event occurred. I 
fancy his feeling would be perhaps something 
as mine is. When I think of my friends in 
the world of that former day, and the sorrow 
they must have felt for me, it is with a pen- 
sive pity, rather than keen anguish, as of a 
sorrow long, long ago ended." 

"You have told us nothing yet of your 
friends," said Edith. "Had you many to 
mourn you?" 

" Thank God, I had very few relatives, none 
nearer than cousins," I replied. "But there 
was one, not a relative, but dearer to me than 
any kin of blood. She had your name. She 
was to have been my wife soon. Ah me ! " 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 2tf 

"Ah me!" sighed the Edith by my side. 
"Think of the heartache she must have had." 

Something in the deep feeling of this gentle 
girl touched a chord in my benumbed heart. 
My eyes, before so dry, were flooded with the 
tears that had till now refused to come. When 

I had regained my composure, I saw that she 
too had been weeping freely. 

"God bless your tender heart," I said. 
n Would you like to see her picture?" 

A small locket with Edith Bartlett'a picture, 
secured about my neck with a gold chain, had 
lain upon my breast all through that long 
sleep, and removing this I opened and gave 
it to my companion. She took it with eager- 
ness, and after poring long over the sweet face, 
touched the picture with her lips. 

"I know that she was good and lovely 
enough to well deserve your tears," she said ; 
M but remember her heartache was over long 
ago, and she has been in heaven for nearly 
a century. n 



298 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

It was indeed so. Whatever her sorrow 
had once been, for nearly a century she had 
ceased to weep, and, my sudden passion 
spent, my own tears dried away. I had loved 
her very dearly in my other life, but it was a 
hundred years ago ! I do not know but some 
may find in this confession evidence of lack of 
feeling, but I think, perhaps, that none can 
have had an experience sufficiently like mine 
to enable them to judge me. As we were 
about to leave the chamber, my eye rested 
upon the great iron safe which stood in one 
corner. Calling my companion's attention to 
it, I said : 

w This was my strong room as well as my 
sleeping room. In the safe yonder are several 
thousand dollars in gold, and any amount of 
securities. If I had known when I went to 
sleep that night just how long my nap would 
be, I should still have thought that the gold 
was a safe provision for my needs in any 
country or any century, however distant. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 299 

That a time would ever come when it would 
lose its purchasing power, I should have con- 
sidered the wildest of fancies. Nevertheless, 
here I wake up to find myself among a people 
of whom a cart-load of gold will not procure a 
loaf of bread. n 

As might be expected, I did not succeed in 
impressing Edith that there was anything re- 
markable in this fact. "Why in the world 
should it ? " she merely asked* 



3<X> LOOKING BACKWARD. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

TT had been suggested by Dr. Leete that 
■*■ we should devote the next morning to an 
inspection of the schools and colleges of the 
city, with some attempt on his own part at an 
explanation of the educational system of the 
twentieth century, 

. "You will see/' said he, as we set out after 
breakfast, "many very important differences 
between our methods of education and yours, 
but the main difference is that nowadays all 
persons equally have those opportunities of 
higher education which, in your day, only an 
infinitesimal portion of the population enjoyed. 
We should think we had gained nothing worth 
speaking of, in equalizing the physical com- 
fort of men, without this educational equality. 9 

"The cost must be very great," I said. 

"If it took half the revenue of the nation, 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 3OX 

nobody would grudge it," replied Dr. Leete, 
" nor even if it took it all save a bare pittance. 
But in truth the expense of educating ten 
thousand youth is not ten nor five times that 
of educating one thousand. The principle 
which makes all operations on a large scale 
proportionally cheaper than on a small scale 
holds as to education also." 

M College education was terribly expensive in 
my day," said I. 

"If I have not been misinformed by our 
historians," Dr. Leete answered, "it was 
not college education but college dissipa- 
tion and extravagance which cost so highly. 
The actual expense of your colleges appears 
to have been very low, and would have 
been far lower if their patronage had been 
greater. The higher education nowadays 
is as cheap as the lower, as all grades of 
teachers, like all other workers, receive the 
same support. We have simply added to the 
common school system of compulsory educa 



302 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

tion, in vogue in Massachusetts a hundred 
years ago, a half dozen higher grades, carry- 
ing the youth to the age of twenty-one and 
giving him what you used to call the education 
of a gentleman, instead of turning him loose 
at fourteen or fifteen with no mental equip* 
ment beyond reading, writing, and the multi- 
plication table. 9 ' 

" Setting aside the actual cost of these addi- 
tional years of education," I replied, "we 
should not have thought we could afford the 
loss of time from industrial pursuits. Boys of 
the poorer classes usually went to work at 
sixteen or younger, and knew their trade at 
twenty." 

w We should not concede you any gain even 
in material product by that plan," Dr. Leete 
replied. "The greater efficiency which edu- 
cation gives to all sorts of labor, except the 
rudest, makes up in a short period for the time 
lost in acquiring it." 

"We should also have been afraid," *aid I, 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 303 

"that a high education, while it adapted 
men to the professions, would set them against 
manual labor of all sorts." 

"That was the effect of high education in 
your day, I have retid," replied the doctor; 
"and it was no wonder, for manual labor 
meant association with a rude, coarse, and 
ignorant class of people. There is no such 
class now* It was inevitable that such a feeling 
should exist then, for the further reason that 
all men receiving a high education were 
understood to be destined for the professions 
or for wealthy leisure, and such an education 
in one neither rich nor professional was a 
proof of disappointed aspirations, an evidence 
of failure, a badge of inferiority rather than 
superiority. Nowadays, of course, when the 
highest education is deemed necessary to fit a 
man merely to live, without any reference to 
the sort of work he may do, its possession con- 
veys no such implication." 

w After all," I remarked, "no amount ol 



304 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

education can cure natural dullness or make 
up for original mental deficiencies. Unless 
the average natural mental capacity of men is 
much above its level in my day, a high 
. education must be pretty nearly thrown away 
on a large element of the population. We 
used to hold that a certain amount of suscepti- 
bility to educational influences is required to 
make a mind worth cultivating, just as a cer* 
tain natural fertility in soil is required if it is 
to repay tilling." 

"Ah," said Dr. Leete, "I am glad you used 
that illustration, for it is just the one I would 
have chosen to set forth the modern % view of 
education. You say that land so poor that 
the product will not repay the labor of tilling 
is not cultivated. Nevertheless, much land 
that does not begin to repay tilling by its pro- 
duct was cultivated in your day and is in ours. 
1 refer to gardens, parks, lawns, and in gen- 
eral to pieces of land so situated that, were 
they left to grow up to weeds and briers, they 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 305 

would be eyesores and inconveniences to all 
about. They are therefore tilled, and though 
their product is little, there is yet no land 
that, in a wider sense, better repays cultivation. 
So it is with the men and women with whom 
we mingle in the relations of society, whose 
voices are always in our ears, whose behaviour 
in innumerable ways affects our enjoyment, — 
who are, in fact, as much conditions of our 
lives as the air we breathe, or any of the phy- 
sical elements on which we depend. If, in- 
deed, we could not afford to educate every- 
body, we should choose the coarsest and 
dullest by nature, rather than the brightest, to 
receive what education we could give. The 
naturally refined and intellectual can better 
dispense with aids to culture than those less 
fortunate in natural endowments. 

n To borrow a phrase which was often used 
in your clay, we should not consider life worth 
living if we had to be surrounded by a popu- 
lation of ignorant, boorifh, coarse, wholly 



306 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

uncultivated men and women, as was the 
plight of the few educated in your day. Is a 
man satisfied, merely because he is perfumed 
himself, to mingle with a malodorous crowd? 
Could he take more than a very limited satis- 
faction, even in a palatial apartment, if the 
windows on all four sides opened into stable 
yards? And yet just that was the situation of 
those considered most fortunate as to culture 
and refinement in your day. I know that the 
poor and ignorant envied the rich and cultured 
then ; but to us the latter, living as they did, 
surrounded by squalor and brutishness, seem 
little better off than the former. The cultured 
man in your age was like one up to the neck 
in a nauseous bog solacing himself with a 
smelling bottle. You see, perhaps, now, how 
we look at this question of universal high 
education. No single thing is so important to 
every man as to have for neighbors intelligent, 
companionable persons. There is nothing, 
therefore, which the nation can do for him 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 307 

that will enhance so much his own happiness 
as to educate his neighbors. When it fails to 
do so, the value of his own education to him is 
reduced by half, and many of the tastes he has 
cultivated are made positive sources of pain. 
w To educate some to the highest degree, 
and leave the mass wholly uncultivated, as 
you did, made the gap between them almost 
like that between different natural species, 
which have no means of communication. 
What could be more inhuman than this con- 
sequence of a partial enjoyment of educa- 
tion ! Its universal and equal enjoyment 
leaves, indeed, the differences between men 
as to natural endowments as marked as 
in a state of nature, but the level of the lowest 

* 

is vastly raised. Brutishness is eliminated. 
All have some inkling of the humanities, some 
appreciation of the things of the mind, and an 
admiration for the still higher culture they 
have fallen short of. They have become ca- 
pable of receiving and imparting, in various 



308 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

degrees, but all in some measure, the pleasures 
and inspirations of a refined social life. The 
cultured society of the nineteenth century, — 
what did it consist of but here and there a few 
microscopic oases in a vast, unbroken wilder- 
ness? The proportion of individuals capable 
of intellectual sympathies or refined inter- 
course, to the mass of their contemporaries, 
used to be so infinitesmal as to be in any broad 
view of humanity scarcely worth mentioning. 
One generation of the world to-day represents 
a greater volume of intellectual life than any 
five centuries ever did before. 

"There is still another point I should 
mention in stating the grounds on which 
nothing less than the universality of the best 
education could now be tolerated," continued 
Dr. Leete, "and that is, the interest of the 
coming generation in having educated parents. 
To put the matter in a nutshell, there are three 
main grounds on which our educational sys- 
tem rests : first, the right of every man to the 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 309 

com pi c test education the nation can give him 
on his own account, as necessary to his enjoy- 
ment of himself; second, the right of his fel- 
low-citizens to have him educated, as neces- 
sary to their enjoyment of his society ; third, 
the right of the unborn to be guaranteed an 
intelligent and refined parentage." 

I shall not describe in detail what I saw in 
the schools that day. Having taken but slight 
interest in educational matters in my former 
life, I could offer few comparisons of interest. 
Next to the fact of the universality of the 
higher as well as the lower education, I was 
most struck with the prominence given to 
physical culture, and the fact that proficiency 
it athletic feats and games as well as in schol- 
arship had a place in the rating of the youth. 

w The faculty of education," Dr. Leete ex- 
plained, " is held to the same responsibility for 
the bodies as for the minds of its charges. 
The highest possible physical, as well as men- 
tal, development of every one is the double 



y 



3IO LOOKING BACKWARD. 

object of a curriculum which lasts from the age 
of six to that of twenty-one." 

The magnificent health of the young people 
in the schools impressed me strongly. My 
previous observations, not only of the notable 
personal endowments of the family of my host, 
but of the people I had seen in my walks 
abroad, had already suggested the idea tha 
there must have been something like a general 
improvement in the physical standard of the 
race since my day, and now, as I compared 
these stalwart young men and fresh, vigorous 
maidens with the young people I had seen 
in the schools of the nineteenth century, I 
was moved to impart my thought to Dr. Leete. 
He listened with great interest to what I said. 

** Your testimony on this point," he declared, 
w is invaluable. We believe that there has been 
such an improvement as you speak of, but of 
course it could only be a matter of theory with 
us. • It is an incident of your unique position 
that you alone in the world of to-day can speak 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 311 

with authority on this point. Your opinion, 
when you state it publicly, will, I assure you, 
make a profound sensation. For the rest it 
would be strange, certainly, if the race did 
not show an improvement. In your day, 
riches debauched one class with idleness of 
mi nd and body, while poverty sapped the vital* 
i ty of the masses by overwork, bad food, a nd 
pestilent homes. The labor required of chil- 
dren, and the burdens laid on women, enfee- 
bled the very springs of life. Instead of these 
/ maleficent circumstances, all now enjoy the 
most favorable conditions of physical life ; the 
young are carefully nurtured and studiously 
cared for ; the labor which is required of all is 
limited to the period of greatest bodily vigor, 
and is never excessive ; care for one's self and 
one's family, anxiety as to livelihood, the 
strain of a ceaseless battle for life — all these 
influences, which once did so much to wreck 
the minds and bodies of men and women, are 
known no more. Certainly, an improvement 



3" LOOKING BACKWARD. 

of the species ought to follow such a change. 
In certain specific respects we know, indeed, 
that the improvement has taken place. In- 
sanity, for instance, which in the nineteenth 
century was so terribly common a product of 
your insane mode of life, has almost disap- 
peared, with its alternative, suicide." 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 3x3 



CHAPTER XXII. 

\\ 7E had made an appointment to meet 
* * the ladies at the dining-hall for dinner, 
after which, having some engagement, they 
left us sitting at table there, discussing our 
wine and cigars with a multitude of other 
matters. 

"Doctor," said I, in the course of our talk, 
" morally speaking, your social system is one 
which I should be insensate not to admire in 
comparison with any previously in vogue in 
the world, and especially with that of my own 
.nost unhappy century. If I were to fall into 
a mesmeric sleep to-night as lasting as that 
other, and meanwhile the course of time were 
to take a turn backward instead of forward, 
and I were to wake up again in the nineteenth 
century, when I had told my friends what I 
had seen, they would every one admit that 



314 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

your world was a paradise of order, equity, 
and felicity. But they were a very practical 
people, my contemporaries, and after express- 
ing their admiration for the moral beauty and 
material splendor of the system, they would 
presently begin to cipher and ask how you got 
the money to make everybody so happy ; for 
certainly, to support the whole nation at a rate 
of comfort, and even luxury, such as I see 
around me, must involve vastly greater wealth 
than the nation produced in my day. Now, 
while I coyld explain to them pretty nearly 
everything else of the main features of your 
system, I should quite fail to answer this ques- 
tion, and failing there, they would tell me, for 
they were very close cipherers, that I had 
been dreaming; nor would they ever believe 
anything else. In my day, I know that the 
total annual product of the nation, although it 
might have been divided with absolute equal- 
ity, would not have come to more than three 
or four hundred dollars per head, not very 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 315 

much more than enough* to supply the neces- 
sities of life with few or any of its comforts 
How is it that you have so much more ? " 

"That is a very pertinent question, Mr. 
West," replied Dr. Leete, * and I should not 
blame your friends, in the case you supposed, 
if they declared your story all moonshine, fail* 
ing a satisfactory reply to it. It is a ques- 
tion which I cannot answer exhaustively at 
any one sitting, and as for the exact statistics 
to bear out my general statements, I shall have 
to refer you for them to books in my library, 
but it would certainly be a pity to leave you to 
be put to confusion by your old acquaintances, 
in case of the contingency you speak of, for 
lack of a few suggestions. 

" Let us begin with a number of small items 
wherein we economize wealth as compared 
with you. We have no national, state, county 
or municipal debts, or payments on their 
account. We have no sort of military or 
naval expenditures for men or materials, no 



3l6 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

army, navy, or militia. We have no revenue 
service, no swarm of tax assessors and collec- 
tors. As regards our judiciary, police, sher- 
iffs, and jailers, the force which Massachusetts 
alone kept on foot in your day far more than 
suffices for the nation now. We have no 
criminal class preying upon the wealth of 
society as you had. The number of persons, 
more or less absolutely lost to the working 
force through physical disability, of the lame, 
sick, and debilitated, which constituted such a 
burden on the able-bodied in your day, now 
that all live under conditions of health and 
comfort, has shrunk to scarcely perceptible 
proportions, and with every generation is 
becoming more completely eliminated. 

"Another item wherein we save is the disuse 
of money and the thousand occupations con- 
nected with financial operations of all sorts, 
whereby an army of men was formerly taken 
away from useful employments. Also con- 
sider that the waste of the very rich in your 



LOOKING BACKWARD, 317 

day on inordinate personal luxury has ceased, 
though, indeed, this item might easily be 
over-estimated. Again, consider that there 
are no idlers now, rich or poor, — no drones. 

" A very important cause of former poverty 
was the vast waste of labor and materials 
which resulted from domestic washing and 
cooking, and the performing separately of 
innumerable other tasks to which we apply 
the co-operative plan. 

M A larger economy than any of these, — 
yes, of all together, — is efFected by the organ- 
ization of our distributing system, by which 
the work done once by the merchants, traders, 
storekeepers, with their various grades of job- 
bers, wholesalers, retailers, agents, commercial 
travellers, and middlemen of a thousand sorts, 
with an excessive waste of energy in needless 
transportation and interminable handlings, is 
performed by one' tenth the number of hands 
and an unnecessary turn of not one wheel. 
Something of what our distributing system is 



318 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

like you know. Our statisticians calculate 
that one eightieth part of our workers suffices 
for all the processes of distribution which in 
your day required one eighth of the popula- 
tion, so much being withdrawn from the force 
engaged in productive labor." 

"I begin to see," I said, "where you get 
your greater wealth." 

"I beg your pardon," replied Dr. Leete, 
w but you scarcely do as yet. The economies 
I have mentioned thus far, in the aggregate, 
considering the labor they would save directly 
and indirectly through saving of material, 
might possibly be equivalent to the addition to 
your annual production of wealth of one-half 
its former total. These items are, however, 
scarcely worth mentioning in comparison with 
other prodigious wastes, now saved, which 
resulted inevitably from leaving the industries 
of the nation to private enterprise. However 
great the economies your contemporaries might 
have devised in the consumption of products, 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 319 

and however marvellous the progress of me- 
chanical invention, they could never have 
raised themselves out of the slough of poverty 
so long as they held to that system. 

" No mode more wasteful for utilizing human 
energy could be devised, and for the credit of 
the human intellect it should be remembered 
that the system never was devised, but was 
merely a survival from the rude ages when 
the lack of social organization made any sort 
of co-operation impossible." 

w I will readily admit," I said, * that our 
industrial system was ethically very bad, but 



as a mere wealth-making machine, apart from 
moral aspects, it seemed to us admirable." 

w As I said," responded the doctor, * the sub- 
ject is too large to discuss at length now, but 
if you are really interested to know the main 
criticisms which we moderns make on your 
industrial system as compared with our own, 
I can touch briefly on some of them . 

"The wastes which resulted from leaving 



320 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

the conduct of industry to irresponsible ii*li- 
viduals, wholly without mutual understandtag 
or concert, were mainly four : first, the waate 
by mistaken undertakings ; second, the waste 
from the competition and mutual hostility of 
those engaged in industry; third, the waste 
by periodical gluts and crises, with the 
consequent interruptions of industry; fourth, 
the waste from idle capital and labor, at all 
times. Any one of these four great leaks, 
were all the others stopped, would suffice to 
make the difference between wealth and 
poverty on the part of a nation. 

" Take the waste by mistaken undertakings, 
to begin with. In your day the production 
and distribution of commodities being without 
concert or organization, there was no means 
of knowing just what demand there was for 
any class of products, or what was the rate of 
supply. Therefore, any enterprise by a pri- 
vate capitalist was always a doubtful experi- 
ment. The projector, having no general 



LOOKING BACKWARl 331 

view of the field of industry and (kMisumption, 
such as our government has, could never be 
sure either what the people wanted, or what 
arrangements other capitalists were making to 
supply them. In view of this, we are not sur 
prised to learn that the chances were consid- 
ered several to one in favor of the failure of any 
given business enterprise, and that it was com- 
mon for persons who at last succeeded in mak- 
ing a hit, to have failed repeatedly. If a shoe 
maker, for every pair of shoes he succeeded in 
completing, spoiled the leather of four or five 
pair, besides losing the time spent on them, he 
would stand about the same chance of getting 
rich as your contemporaries did with their sys- 
tem of private enterprise, and its average of 
four or five failures to one success. 

" The next of the great wastes was that from 
competition. The field of industry was a bat- 
tle-field as wide as the world, in which the 
workers wasted, in assailing one another, ener- 
gies which, if expended in concerted effort, as 



322 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

to-day, would have enriched all. As for mercy 
or quarter in this warfare, there was absolutely 
no suggestion of it. To deliberately enter a 
field of business and destroy the enterprises of 
those who had occupied it previously, in order 
to plant one's own enterprise on their ruins, 
was an achievement which never failed to com* 
:nand popular admiration. Nor is there any 
stretch of fancy in comparing this sort of 
struggle with actual warfare, so far as con- 
cerns the mental agony and physical suffering 
which attended the struggle, and the misery 
which overwhelmed the defeated and those 
dependent on them. Now nothing about your 
age is, at first sight, more astounding to a man 
of modern times than the fact that men en- 
gaged in the same industry, instead of frater- 
nizing as comrades and co-laborers to a com- 
mon end, should have regarded each other as 
rivals and enemies to be throttled and over- 
thrown. This certainly seems like sheer mad- 
ness, a scene from bedlam. But more closely 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 323 

regarded, it is seen to be no such thing. Your 
contemporaries, with their mutual throat-cut- 
ting, knew very well what they were at. The 
producers of the nineteenth century were not, 
like ours, working together for the mainte- 
nance of the community, but each solely for 
his own maintenance at the expense of the 
community. If, in working to this end, he at 
the same time increased the aggregate wealth, 
that was merely incidental. It was just as 
feasible and as common to increase one's pri- 
vate hoard by practices injurious to the 
general welfare. One's worst enemies were 
necessarily those of his own trade, for, under 
your plan of making private profit the motive 
of production, a scarcity of the article he pro- 
duced was what each particular producer de- 
sired. It was for his interest that no more of 
it should be produced than he himself could 
produce. To secure this consummation as 
far as circumstances permitted, by killing off 
and discouraging those engaged in his line of 



324 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

industry, was his constant effort. When he 
had killed off all he could, his policy was to 
combine with those he could not kill, and con- 
vert their mutual warfare into a warfare upon 
the public at large by cornering the market, as 
I believe you used to call it, and putting up 
prices to the highest point people would stand 
before going/without the goods. The day 
dream of the nineteenth century producer was 
to gain absolute control of the supply of some 
necessity of life, so that he might keep the 
public at the verge of starvation, and always 
command famine prices for what he supplied. 
This, Mr. West, is what was called in the 
nineteenth century a system of production. I 
will leave it to you if it does not seem, in some 
of its aspects, a great deal more like a system 
for preventing production. Some time when 
we have plenty of leisure I am going to ask 
you to sit down with me and try to make me 
comprehend, as I never yet could, though I 
have studied the matter a great deal, how 




I 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 325 

such shrewd fellows as your contemporaries 
appear to have been in many respects ever 
came to entrust the business of providing for 
the community to a class whose interest it was ;' 
to starve it. I assure you that the wonder with 
us is not that the world did not get rich under 
such a system, but that it did not perish out- 
right from want. This wonder increases as 
we go on to consider some of the other prodig- 
ious wastes that characterized it. 

" Apart from the waste of labor and capital 
by misdirected industry, and that from the 
constant bloodletting of your industrial war- 
fare, your system was liable to periodical con- 
vulsions overwhelming alike the wise and un- 
wise, the successful cut-throat as well as his 
victim. I refer to the business crises at in- 
tervals of five to ten years, which wrecked 
the industries of the nation, prostrating all 
weak enterprises and crippling the strongest, 
and were followed by long periods, often of 
many years, of so-called dull times, during 



326 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

which the capitalists slowly regathered their 
dissipated strength while the laboring classes 
starved and rioted. Then would ensue an- 
other brief season of prosperity, followed in 
turn by another crisis and the ensuing years of 
exhaustion. As commerce developed, mak- 
ing* the nations mutually dependent, these 
crises became world-wide, while the obstinacy 
of the ensuing states of collapse increased with 
the area affected by the convulsions, and the 
consequent lack of rallying centres. In pro- 
portion as the industries of the world multi- 
plied and became complex, and the volume of 
capital involved was increased, these business 
cataclysms became more frequent till, in the 
latter part of the nineteenth century, there 
were two years of bad times to one of good, 
and the system of industry never before so 
extended or so imposing seemed in danger of 
collapsing by its own weight. After endless 
discussions, your economists appear by that 
time to have settled down to Jhe despairing 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 32J 

conclusion that there was no more possibility 
of preventing or controlling these crises than 
if they had been drouths or hurricanes. It 
only remained to endure them as necessary / 
evils, and when they had passed over to build 
up again the shattered structure of industry, 
as dwellers in an earthquake country keep on 
rebuilding their cities on the same site. 

"So far as considering the causes of the 
trouble inherent in their industrial system, 
your contemporaries were certainly correct. 
They were in its very basis, and must needs 
become more and more maleficent as the busi- 
ness fabric grew in size and complexity. One 
of these causes was the lack of any common 
control of the different industries, and the con- 
sequent impossibility of their orderly and co- 
ordinate development. It inevitably resulted 
from this lack that they were continually get- 
ting out of step with one another and out of 
celation with the demand. 

" Of the latter there was no criterion such ma 



328 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

organized distribution gives us, and the first 
notice that it had been exceeded in any group 
of industries was a crash of prices, bankruptcy 
of producers, stoppage of production, reduc- 
tion of wages, or discharge of workmen*. 
This process was constantly going on in many 
industries, even in what were called good 
times, but a crisis took place only when the- 
industries affected were extensive* The mar- 
. kets then were glutted with goods, of which: 

* • 

nobody wanted beyond a sufficiency at any 
price. The wages and profits of those making 

the glutted classes of goods being reduced or 
wholly stopped, their purchasing power as 
consumers of other classes of goods, of which 
there was no natural glut, was taken away, 
and, as a consequence, goods of which there 
was no natural glut became artificially glutted, 
till their prices also were broken down, and \ 
their makers thrown out of work and deprived ; 
of income. The crisis was by this time, fairly 
under way, and nothing could check it till a 
nation's ransom had been wasted. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 329 

"A cause, also inherent in your system, 
which often produced and always terribly 
aggravated crises, was the machinery of 
money and credit. Money was essential 
when production was in many private hands, 
and buying and selling was necessary to 
secure what one wanted. It was, however, 
open to the obvious objection of substitut- 
ing for food, clothing, and other things, a 
merely conventional representative of them. 
The confusion of mind which this favored, 
between goods and their representative, led 
the way to the credit system and its prodig- 
ious illusions. Already accustomed to accept 
money for commodities, the people next ac- 
cepted promises for money, and ceased to look 
at all behind the representative for the thing 
represented. Money was a sign of real com- 
modities, but credit was but the sign of a sign. 
There was a natural limit to gold and silver, 
that is, money proper, but none tp credit, and 
the result was that the volume of credit, that 



V 



330 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

is, the promises of money, ceased to beat 
any ascertainable proportion to the money, 
still less to the commodities, actually in 
existence. Under such a system, frequent and 
periodical crises were necessitated by a law as 
absolute as that which brings to the ground 
a structure overhanging its centre of "gravity. 
\ It was one of your fictions that the government 
and the banks authorized by it alone issued 
money ; but everybody who gave a dollar's 
credit issued money to that extent, which was as 
good as any to swell the circulation till the 
next crisis. The great extension of the credit 
system was a characteristic of the latter part 
of the nineteenth century, and accounts largely 
for the almost incessant business crises which 
marked that period. Perilous as credit was, 
you could not dispense with its use, for, lack- 
ing any national or other public organization 
of the capital of the country, it was the only 
means you had for concentrating and directing 
it upon industrial enterprises. It was in this 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 331 

way a most potent means for exaggeiating the 
chief peril of the private enterprise system of 
industry by enabling particular industries to 
absorb disproportionate amounts of the dis- 
posable capital of the country, and thus 
prepare disaster. Business enterprises were 
always vastly in debt for advances of credit, 
both to one another and to the banks and cap- 
italists, and the prompt withdrawal of this 
credit at the first sign of a crisis, was generally 
the precipitating cause of it. 

"It was the misfortune of your contemporaries 
that they had to cement their business fabric 
with a material which an accident might at 
any moment turn into an explosive. They 
were in the plight of a man building a house 
with dynamite for mortar, for credit can be 
compared with nothing else. 

" If you would see how needless were these 
convulsions of business which I have been 
speaking of, and how entirely they resulted 
from leaving industry to private and unorgan- 



332 • LOOKING BACKWARD. 

tzed management, just consider the working 
of our system. Over-production in special 
lines, which was the great hob-goblin of your 
day, is impossible now, for by the connection 
between distribution and production, supply is 
geared to demand like an engine to the gov- 
ernor which regulates its speed. Even sup- 
pose by an error of judgment an excessive 
production of some commodity. The conse- 
quent slackening or cessation of production in 
that line throws nobody out of employment. 
The suspended workers are at once found occu- 
pation in some other department of the vast 
workshop and lose only the time spent in 
changing, while, as for the glut, the busi- 
ness of the nation is large enough to carry any 
amount of product manufactured in excess of 
demand till the latter overtakes it. In such a 
case of over-production, as I have supposed, 
there is not with us, as with you, any complex 
machinery to get out of order and magnify a 
thousand times the original mistake. Of 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 333 

course, having not even money, we still less 
have credit. All estimates deal directly with 
the real things, the flour, iron, wood, wool, and 
labor, of which money and credit were for you 
the very misleading representatives. In our 
calculations of cost there can be no mis- 
takes. Out of the annual product the amounc 
necessary for the support of the people is taken, 
and the requisite labor to produce the next 
year's consumption provided for. The residue 
of the material and labor represents what can be 
safely expended in improvements. If the crops 
are bad, the surplus for that yejir is less than 
usual, that is all. Except for slight occasional 
effects of such natural causes, there are no fluc- 
tuations of business ; the material prosperity of 
the nation flows on uninterruptedly from gen- 
eration to generation, like an ever broadening 
and deepening river." 

* Your business crises, Mr. West,* continued 
the doctor, " like either of the great wastes I 
mentioned before, were enough, alone, to have 



334 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

kept your noses to the grindstone forever ; but 
I have still to speak of one other great cause 
of your poverty, and that was the idleness of 
a great part of your capital and labor. 
With us it is the business of the admin- 
istration to keep in constant employment 
every ounce of available capital and labor 
in the country. In your day there was 
no general control of either capital or labor, 
and a large part of both failed to find employ- 
ment. 'Capital,' you used to say 'is natur- 
ally timid,' and it would certainly have been 
reckless if it had not been timid in an epoch 
when there was a large preponderance of 
probability that any particular business ven- 
ture would end in failure. There was no time 
when, if security could have been guaran- 
teed it, the amount of capital devoted to pro- 
ductive industry could not have been greatly 
increased. The proportion of it so employed 
underwent constant extraordinary fluctuations, 
according to the greater or less feeling of 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 335 

uncertainty as to the stability of the industrial 
situation, so that the output of the national 
industries greatly varied in different years. 
But, for the same reason that the amount of 
capital employed at times of special insecur- 
ity was far less than at times of somewhat 
greater security, a very large proportion was 
never employed at all, because the hazard of 
business was always very great in the best 
of times. 

"It should be also noted that the great 
amount of capital always seeking employment 
where tolerable safety could be insured, ter- 
ribly embittered the competition between cap- 
italists when a promising opening presented 
itself. The idleness of capital, the result of 
its timidity, of course meant the idleness of 
labor in corresponding degree. Moreover, 
every change in the adjustments of business, 
every slightest alteration in the condition of 
commerce or manufactures, not to speak of the 
innumerable business failures that took place 



33<> LOOKING BACKWARD. 

yearly, even in the best of times, were con- 
stantly throwing a multitude of men out of 
employment for periods of weeks or months, 
or even years. A great number of these seek- 
ers after employment were constantly travers- 
ing the country, becoming in time profes- 
sional vagabonds, then criminals. 'Give us 
work I ' was the cry of an army of the unem- 
ployed at nearly all seasons, and in seasons of 
dullness in business this army swelled to a host 
so vast and desperate as to threaten the stability 
of the government. Could there conceivably 
be a more conclusive demonstration of the 
imbecility of the system of private enterprise 
as a method for enriching a nation than the 
fact that in an age of such general poverty 
and want of everything, capitalists had to 
throttle one another to find a safe chance to 
invest their capital, and workmen rioted and 
burned because they could find no work to 
do." 
"Now, Mr. West," continued Dr. Leete, "I 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 337 

want you to bear in mind that these points of 
which I have been speaking indicate only neg- 
atively the advantages of the national organiz- 
ation of industry by showing certain fatal 
defects and prodigious imbecilities of the sys- 
tem of private enterprise which arc not found 
in it. These alone, you must admit, would 
pretty well explain why the nation is so much 
richer than in your day. But the larger half 
of our advantage over you, the positive side 
of it, I have yet barely spoken of. Supposing 
the system of private enterprise in industry 
were without any of the great leaks I have 
mentioned; that there were no waste on 
account of misdirected effort growing out of 
mistakes as to the demand, and inability to 
command a general view of the industrial field. 
Suppose, also, there were no neutralizing and 
duplicating of effort from competition. Sup- 
pose, also, there were no waste from busi- 
ness panics and crises through bankruptcy 
and long interruptions of industry, and also 



J38 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

•one from the idleness of capital and labor. 
Supposing these evils, which are essential to 
the conduct of industry by capital in private 
hands, could all be miraculously prevented, 
and the system yet retained; even then the 
superiority of the results attained by the 
modern industrial system of national control 
would remain overwhelming. 

w You used to have some pretty large textile 
manufacturing establishments, even in your 
day, although not comparable with ours. No 
doubt you have visited these great mills in 
your time, covering acres of ground, employ- 
ing thousands of hands, and combining under 
one roof, under one control , the hundred dis- 
tinct processes between, say, the cotton bale 
and the bale of glossy calicoes. You have 
admired the vast economy of labor as of me- 
chanical force resulting from the periect inter- 
working with the rest, of every wheel and 
every hand. No doubt you have reflected how 
much less the same force of workers employed 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 339 

in th*t factory would accomplish if they were 
scattered, each man working independently. 
Would you think it an exaggeration to say that 
the utmost product of those workers, working 
thus apart, however amicable their relations 
might be, was increased not merely by a per- 
centage, but many fold, when their efforts 
were organized under one control ? Well now, 
Mr. West, the organization of the industry of 
the nation under a single control, so that all its 
processes interlock, has multiplied the total 
product over the utmost that could be done 
under the former system, even leaving out of 
account the four great wastes mentioned, in 
the same proportion that the product of those 
mill-workers was increased by co-operation. 
The effectiveness of the working force of a na- 
tion, under the myriad-headed leadership of 
private capital, even if the leaders were not 
mutual enemies, as compared with that which 
it attains under a single head, may be likened 
to the military efficiency of a mob, or a horde 



340 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

of barbarians with a thousand petty chiefs, as 
compared with that of a disciplined army under 
one general — such a fighting machine, for 
example, as the German army in the time of 
Von Moltke." 

w After what you have told me," I said, 
w I do not so much wonder that the nation is 
richer now than then, but that you are not all 
Croesuses." 

"Well," replied Dr. Leete, w we are pretty 
well off. The rate at which we live is as lux- 
urious as we could wish. The rivalry of 
ostentation, which in your day led to extrava- 
gance in no way conducive to comfort, finds 
no place, of course, in a society of people 
absolutely equal in resources, and our ambition 
stops at the surroundings which minister to the 
enjoyment of life. We might, indeed, have 
much larger incomes, individually, if we 
chose so to use the surplus of our product, 
but we prefer to expend it upon public work* 
and pleasures in which all share, upon public 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 341 

halls and buildings, art galleries, bridges, stat- 
uary, means of transit, and the conveniences 
of our cities, great musical and theatrical exhi- 
bitions, and in providing on a vast scale for 
the recreations of the people. You have not 
begun to see how we live yet, Mr. West. At 
home we have comfort, but the splendor of 
our life is, on its social side, that wliich we 
share with our fellows. When you know 
more of it you will sec where the money 
goes, as you used to say, and I think you will 
agree that we do well so to expend it.* 

"I suppose," observed Dr. Leete, as we 
strolled homeward from the dining hall, 
w that no reflection would have cut the men of 
your wealth-worshipping century more keenly 
than the suggestion that they did not know 
how to make money. Nevertheless, that is 
just the verdict history has passed on them. 
Their system of unorganized and antagonistic 
industries, was as absurd economically as it was 
morally abominable. Selfishness was their f 



34* LOOKING BACKWARD. 

\ only science, and in industrial production, 
selfishness is suicide. Competition, which is 
the instinct of selfishness, is another word for 
dissipation of energy, while combination is the 
secret of efficient production, and not till the 
idea of increasing the individual hoard gives 
place to the idea of increasing the common 
stock, can industrial combination be realized, 
and .the acquisition of wealth really begin 
Even if the principle of share and share alike 
for all men were not the only humane and 
rational basis for a society, we should still 
enforce it as economically expedient, seeing 
that until the disintegrating influence of self- 
seeking is suppressed no true concert of indus- 
try is possible." 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 343 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

fTMIAT evening, as I sat with Edith in the 
•*■ music room, listening to some pieces 
in the programme of that day which had at- 
tracted my notice, I took advantage of an 
interval in the music to say, " I have a ques- 
tion to ask you which I fear is rather indis- 
creet" 

W I am quite sure it is not that," she replied, 
encouragingly. 

" I am in the position of an eavesdropper," I 
continued, " who, having overheard a little of 
a matter not intended for him, though seeming 
to concern him, has the impudence to come to 
the speaker for the rest.* 

"An eavesdropper I" she repeated, looking 
puzzled. 

" Yes,** I said, " but an excusable oge, as ) 
think you will admit.* 



344 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

n This is very mysterious," she replied. 

"Yes," paid I, w so mysterious that often I 
have doubted whether I really overheard at 
all what I am going to ask you about, or only 
dreamed it. I want you to tell me. The 
matter is this: When I was coming out of 
that sleep of a century, the first impression of 
' which I was conscious was of voices talking 
around me, voices that afterwards I recog- 
nized as your father's, your mother's and your 
wn. First, I remember your father's voice 
laying, ' He is going to open his eyes. He 
\&d better see but one person at first.' Then 
you said, if I did not dream it all, ' Promise 
me, then, that you will not tell him.' Your 
father seemed to hesitate about promising, but 
you insisted, and your mother interposing, he 
finally promised, and when I opened my eyes 
I saw only him." 

I had been quite serious when I said that I 
was not sure that I had not dreamed the con- 
versation I fancied I had overheard, so incom- 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 34$ 

prehensible was it that these people should 
know anything of me, a contemporary of their 
great-grandparents, which I did not know my- 
self. But when 1 saw the effect of my words 
upon Edith, I knew that it was no dream, but 
another mystery, and a more puzzling one 
than any I had before encountered. For from 
the moment that the drift of my question' 
became apparent, she showed indications of 
the most acute embarrassment. Her eyes r 
always so frank and direct in expression, had 
dropped in a panic before mine, while her face 
crimsoned from neck to forehead. 

"Pardon me," I said, as soon as I had 
recovered from bewilderment at the extra- 
ordinary effect of my words. * It seems, then, 
that I was not dreaming. There is some' 
secret, something about me, which you are* 
withholding from me. Really, doesn't it seem 
a little hard that a person in my position should' 
not be given all the information possible con- 
cerning himself? w 



346 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

"It does not concern you — that is, not 
directly. It is not about you — exactly," she 
replied, scarcely audibly. 

" But it concerns me in some way," I per- 
sisted. " It must be something that would in- 
terest me." 

" I don't know even that," she replied, ven- 
turing a momentary glance at my face, furi- 
ously blushing, and yet with a quaint smile 
flickering about her lips which betrayed a 
certain perception of humor in the situation 
despite its embarrassment, — "I am not sure 
that it would even interest you." 

"Your father would have told me," I in- 
sisted, with an accent of reproach. "It was 
you who forbade him. He thought I ought 
to know." 

She did not reply. She was so entirely 
charming in her confusion that I was now 
prompted as much by the desire to prolong the 
situation as by my original curiosity, in im- 
portuning her further. 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 347 

" Am I never to know ? Will you never tell 
mc ? " I said. 

"It depends," she answered, after a long 
pause. 

"On what?" I persisted. 

"Ah, you ask too much," she replied. 
Then, raising to mine a face which inscrut- 
able eyes, flushed cheeks, and smiling lips 
combined to render perfectly bewitching, she 
added, " What should you think if I said that 
it depended on — yourself? n 

"On myself?'* I echoed. "How can that 
possibly be?" 

" Mr. West, we are losing some charming 
music," was her only reply to this, and turning 
to the telephone, at a touch of her finger she set 
the air to swaying to the rhythm of an adagio. 
After that she took good care that the music 
should leave no opportunity for conversation. 
She kept her face averted from me, and pre- 
tended to be absorbed in the airs, but that it 
was a mere pretence the crimson tide standing 
at flood in her cheeks sufficiently betrayed. 



348 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

When at length she suggested that I might 
have heard all I cared to, for that time, and 
we rose to leave the room, she came straight 
up to me and said, without raising her eyes, 
w Mr. West, you say I have been good to you. 
I have not been particularly so, but if you think 
I have, I want you to promise me that you 
will not try again to make me tell you this 
thing you have asked to-night, and that you 
will not try to find it out from any one else, — 
my father or mother, for instance." 

To such an appeal there was but one reply 
possible. w Forgive me for distressing you. 
Of course I will promise," I said. n I would 

never have asked you if I had fancied it could 
distress you. But do you blame me for being 
mrious? " 

M I do not blame you at all." 

w And some time," I added, n If I do not tease 
you, you may tell me of your own accord. 
May I not hope so? " 

"Perhaps," she murmured. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 349 

"Only perhaps?" 

Looking up she read my face with a quick 
deep glance. " Yes," she said, " I think I may 
tell you — some time ;" and so our conversation 
ended, for she gave me no chance to say any- 
thing more. 

That night I don't think even Dr. Pillsbury 
could have put me to sleep, till toward morn- 
ing, at least. Mysteries had been my accus- 
tomed food for days, now, but none had before 
confronted me at once so mysterious and so 
fascinating as this, the solution of which Edith 
Leete had forbidden me even to seek. It was 
a double mystery. How, in the first place, 
was it conceivable that she should know any 
secret about me, a stranger from a strange 
age? In the second place, even if she should 
know such a secret, how account for the agi- 
tating effect which the knowledge of it seemed 
to have upon her? There are puzzles so 
difficult that one cannot even get so far as a 
conjecture as to the solution, and this seemed 



350 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

one of them. I am usually of too practical 
a turn to waste time on such conundrums ; but 
the difficulty of a riddle embodied in a beauti- 
ful young girl does not detract from its fascina- 
tion. In general, no doubt, maiden's blushes 
may be safely assumed to tell the same tale to 
young men in all ages and races, but to give 
that interpretation to Edith's crimson qheeks, 
would, considering my position and the length 
of time I had known her, and still more the 
fact that this mystery dated from before I had 
known her at all, be a piece of utter fatuity. 
And yet she was an angel, and I should not 
have been a young man if reason and com- 
mon sense had been able quite to banish a 
roseate tinge from my dreams that night. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 351 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

TN the morning I went down stairs early in 
■* the hope of seeing Edith alone. In this, 
however, I was disappointed. Not finding her 
in the house, I sought her in the garden, but 
she was not there. In the course of my wan- 
derings I visited the underground chamber, 
and sat down there to rest. Upon the reading 
table in the chamber, several periodicals and 
newspapers lay, and thinking that Dr. Leete 
might be interested in glancing over a Boston 
daily of 1887, I brought one of the papers with 
me into the house when I came. 

At breakfast I met Edi*h. She blushed as 
she greeted me, but was perfectly self-pos- 
sessed. As we sat at table, Dr. Leete amused 
himself with looking over the paper I had 
brought in. There was in it, as in all the 
newspapers of that date, a great deal about the 



35^ LOOKING BACKWARD. 

labor troubles, strikes, lockouts, boycotts, the 
programmes of labor parties, and .the wild 
threats of the anarchists. 

"By the way," said I, as the doctor read 
aloud to us some of these items, " what part 
did the followers of the red flag take in the 
establishment of the new order of things? 
They were making considerable noise the last 
thing that I knew." 

" They had nothing to do with it except to 
hinder it, of course," replied Dr. Leete. 
"They did that very effectually while they 
lasted, for their talk so disgusted people as to 
deprive the best considered projects for social 
reform of a hearing. The subsidizing of those 
fellows was one of the shrewdest moves of 
the opponents of reform." 

" Subsidizing them ! " I exclaimed in aston- 
ishment. 

"Certainly," replied Dr. Leete. "No his- 
torical authority nowadays doubts that they 
were paid by the great monopolies to wave the 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 353 

red flag and talk about burning, sacking, and 
blowing people up, in order, by alarming the 
timid, to head off any real reforms. What 
astonishes me most is that you should have 
fallen into the trap so unsuspectingly." 

M What are your grounds for believing that 
the red flag party was subsidized?" I in- 
quired. 

r Why simply because they must have seen 
that their course made a thousand enemies of 
their professed cause to one friend. Not to 
suppose that they were hired for the work is to 
credit them with an inconceivable folly. • In 
the United States, of all countries, no party 
could intelligently expect to carry its point 
without first winning over to its ideas a major- 
ity of the nation, as the national party eventu- 
ally did." 

M The national party ! " I exclaimed. " That 



• I folly admit the difficulty of Accounting for the court* of tho 
Iff* oa any other theory then that they were aubtldiaed by the capital* 
itta, but, at the aame time, there Is no doubt that the theory It wholly 
ermoeoue. It certainly waa not held at the fame by any oaa> thoeajm M 
amay eeeaa to obviooe la the retroapact. 



354 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

must have arisen after my day. I suppose it 
was one of the labor parties." 

« Oh no ! " replied the doctor. " The labor 
parties, as such, never could have accom- 
plished anything on a large or permanent 
scale. For purposes of national scope, their 
basis as merely class organizations was too 
narrow. It was not till a rearrangement of 
the industrial and social system on a higher 
ethical basis, and for the more efficient pro* 
duction of wealth, was recognized as the inter- 
est, not of one class, but equally of all classes, 
of rich and poor, cultured and ignorant, old 
and young, weak and strong, men and 
women, that there was any prospect that it 
would be achieved. Then the nalional party 
arose to carry it out by political methods. It 
probably took that name because its aim 
was to nationalize the functions of production 
and distribution. Indeed, it could not well 
have had any other name, for its purpose was 
to realize the idea of the nation with a 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 355 

grandeur and completeness never before con- 
ceived, not as an association of men for certain 
merely political functions affecting their hap- 
piness only remotely and superficially, but 
as a family, a vital union, a common life, 
a mighty heaven-touching tree whose leaves 
are its people, fed from its veins, and feeding 
it in turn. The most patriotic of all possible 
parties, it sought to justify patriotism and raise 
it from an instinct to a rational devotion, by 
making the native land truly a father land, 
a father who kept the people alive and was not 
merely an idol for which they were expected 
to die." 



35 6 LOOKING BACKWARD. 



CHAPTER XXV. 

r TT*HE personality of Edith Leete had natur- 
■*• ally impressed me strongly ever since I 
had come, in so strange a manner, to be an 
inmate of her father's house, and it was to be 
expected that after what had happened the 
night previous, I should be more than ever 
preoccupied with thoughts of her. From the 
first I had been struck with the air of serene 
frankness and ingenuous directness, more like 
that of a noble and innocent boy than any girl 
I had ever known, which characterized her. 
I was curious to know how far this charming 
quality might be peculiar to herself, and how 
far possibly a result of alterations in the social 
position of women which might have taken 
place since my time. Finding an opportunity 
that day', when alone with Dr. Leete, I turned 
the conversation ?ti that direction. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 357 

* I suppose," I said, " that women nowadays, 
having been relieved of the burden of house- 
work, have no employment but the cultivation 
of their charms and graces." 

" So far as wc men are concerned," replied 
Dr. Leete, w we should consider that they am- 
ply paid their way, to use one of your forms of 
expression, if they confined themselves to that 
occupation, but you may be very sure that 
they have quite too much spirit to consent to be 
mere beneficiaries of society, even as a return 
for ornamenting it. They did, indeed, wel- 
come their riddance from housework, because 
that was not only exceptionally wearing in itself 
but also wasteful in the extreme, of energy, 
as compared with the co-operative plan ; but 
they accepted relief from that sort of work only 
that they might contribute in other and more 
effectual, as well as more agreeable ways, to the 
common weal. Our women, as well as our 
men, are members of the industrial army, and 
leave it only when maternal duties claim them. 



358 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

The result is that most women, at one time or 
another of their lives, serve industrially some 
five or ten or fifteen years, while those who 
have no children fill out the full term." 

n A woman does not, then, necessarily leave 
the industrial service on marriage?" I queried. 

w No more than a man," replied the doctor. 
" Why on earth should she? Married women 
have no housekeeping responsibilities now, 
you know, and a husband is not a baby that he 
should be cared for." 

w It was thought one of the most grievous 
features of our civilization that we required so 
much toil from women," I said ; w but it seems 
to me you get more out of them than we did." 

Dr. Leete laughed. w Indeed we do, just as 
we do out of our men. Yet the women of this 
age are very happy, and those of the nine- 
teenth century, unless contemporary references 
greatly mislead us, were very miserable. The 
reason that women nowadays are so much 
more efficient co-laborers with the men fr\A *XT 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 359 

the same time are so happy, is that, in regard 
to their work as well as men's, we follow the 
principle of providing every one the kind of 
:ccupation he or she is best adapted to. 
Women being i nf e rior in strength to men, and 
further disqualified industrially in special 
ways, the kinds of occupation reserved for 
them, and the conditions under which they 
pursue them, have reference to these facts. 
The heavier sorts of work are everywhere re- 
served for men, the lighter occupations fot 
women. Under no circumstances is a woman 
permitted to follow any employment not per- 
fectly adapted, both as to kind and degree of 
labor, to her sex. Moreover, the hours of 
women's work are considerably shorter than 
those of men's, more frequent vacations are 
granted, and the most careful provision is 
made for rest when needed. The men of this 
day 30 well appreciate that they owe to the 
beauty and grace of women the chief xest of j 
their lives and their main incentive to efforts 



360 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

that they permit them to work at all only 
because it is fully understood that a certain 
regular requirement of labor, of a sort adapted 
to their powers, is well for body and mind, 
during the period of maximum physical vigor. 
We believe that the magnificent health which 
distinguishes our women from those of your 
day, who seem to have been so generally 
sickly, is owing largely to the fact that all 
alike are furnished with healthful and inspir- 
iting occupation." 

w I understood you," I said, w that the women- 
workers belong to the army of industry, but 
how can they be under the same system of 
ranking and discipline with the men when 
the conditions of their labor are so different." 

"They are under an entirely different disci- 
pline," replied Dr. Leete, "and constitute 
rather an allied force than an integral part of 
the army of the men. They have a woman 
general-in-chief and are under exclusively 
feminine regime. This general, as also the 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 361 

higher officers, is chosen by the body of 
women who have passed the time of service, 
in correspondence with the manner in which 
the chiefs of the masculine army and the 
president of the nation are elected. The 
general of the women's army sits in the cabi- 
net of the president and has a veto on meas- 
ures respecting women's work, pending appeals 
to Congress. I should have said, in speaking 
of the judiciary, that we have women on the 
bench, appointed by the general of the women, 
as well as men. Causes in which both parties 
are women are determined by women judges, 
and where a man and a woman are parties to 
a case, a judge of either sex must consent to 
the verdict." 

"Womanhood seems to be organized as a 
sort of im per turn in impcrio in your system," 
I said. 

n To some extent," Dr. Lccte replied ; n but 
the inner imperium is one from which you 
will admit there is not likely to be much dan- 



362 LOOKING BACKWARD, 

ger to the nation. The lack of some such 
recognition of the distinct individuality of the 
sexes was one of the innumerable defects of 
your society. The passional attraction be- 
tween men and women has too often prevented 
a perception of the profound differences which 
make the members of each sex in many things 
strange to the other, and capable of sympathy 
only with their own. It is in giving full play 
to the differences of sex rather than in seek- 
ing to obliterate them, as was apparently the 
effort of some reformers in your day, that the 
enjoyment of each by itself, and the piquancy 
which each has for the other, are alike en- 
hanced. In your day there was no career for 
women except in an unnatural rivalry with men. 
We have given them a world of their own with 
its emulations, ambitions, and careers, and I 
assure you they are very happy in it. It seems 
to us that women were more than any other 
class the victims of your civilization. There 
is something which, even at this distance of 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 363 

time, penetrates one with pathos in the specta- 
cle of their ennuied, undeveloped lives, stunted 
at marriage, their narrow horizon, bounded so 
often, physically, by the four walls of home 
and morally by a petty circle of personal 
interests. I speak now not of the poorer 
classes who were generally worked to death, 
but also of the well to do and rich. From the 
great sorrows, as well as the petty frets of life, 
they had no refuge in the breezy outdoor 
world of human affairs, nor any interests save 
those of the family. Such an existence would 
have softened men's brains or driven them 
mad. All that is changed to-day . No woman 
is heard nowadays wishing she were a man, 
nor parents desiring boy rather than girl child- 
ren. Our girls are as full of ambition for 
their careers as our boys. Marriage, when it 
comes, does not mean incarceration for them, 
nor does it separate them in any way from the 
larger interests of society, the bustling life of 
the world. Only when maternity fills a woman's 



364 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

mind with new interests does she withdraw 
from the world for a time. Afterwards, and at 
any time, she may return to her place among 
her comrades, nor need she ever lose touch 
with them. Women are a very happy race 
nowadays, as compared with what they ever 
were before in the world's history, and their 
power of giving happiness to men has been 
of course increased in proportion." 

" I should imagine it possible," I said, " that 
the interest which girls take in their careers 
as members of the industrial army and candi- 
dates for its distinctions, might have an effect 
to deter them from marriage." 

Dr. Leete smiled. w Have no anxiety on 
that score, Mr. West," he repled. "The Cre- 
ator took very good care that whatever other 
modifications the dispositions of men and women 
might with time take on, their attraction for 
each other should remain constant. The mere 
fact that in an age like yours when the struggle 
for existence must have left people little time 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 365 

for other thoughts, and the future was so 
uncertain that to assume parental responsibili- 
ties must have often seemed like a criminal 
risk, there was even then marrying and giving 
in marriage, should be conclusive on this point. 
As for love nowadays, one of our authors says 
that the vacuum left in the minds of men and 
women by the absence of care for one's live- 
lihood, has been entirely taken up by the ten- 
der passion. That, however, I beg you to be- 
lieve, is something of an exaggeration. For the 
rest, so far is marriage from being an interfer- 
ence with a woman's career that the higher 
positions in the feminine army of industry 
arc intrusted only to women who have been 
both wives and mothers, as they alone fully 
represent their sex." 

" Arc credit cards issued to the women just 
as to the men ? " 

"Certainly." 

"The credits of the women I suppose 
are for smaller sums, owing to the frequent 



366 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

suspension of their labor on account of family 
responsibilities." 

w Smaller ! " exclaimed Dr. Leete, w O, no ! 
The maintenance of all our people is the same. 
There are no exceptions to that rule, but 
if any difference were made on account of 
the interruptions you speak of, it would be by 
making the woman's credit larger, not smaller. 
Can you think of any service constituting a 
stronger claim on the nation's gratitude than 
bearing and nursing the nation's children? 
According to our view, none deserve so well 
of the world as good parents. There is no 
task so unselfish, so necessarily without return, 
though the heart is well rewarded, as the 
nurture of the children who are to make the 
world for one another when we are gone." 

w It would seem to follow, from what you 
have said, that wives are in no way depend- 
ent on their husbands for maintenance." 

w Of course they are not," replied Dr. Leete, 
"nor children on their parents either, that 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 367 

;a, for means of support, though of course 
they arc for the offices of affection. The 
child's labor, when he grows up, will go 
to increase the common stock, not his parents', 
who will be dead, and therefore he is properly 
nurtured out of the common stock. The 
account of every person, man, woman, and 
child, you must understand, is always with the 
nation directly, and never through any inter- 
mediary, except, of course, that parents, to a 
certain extent, act for children as their guard- 
ians. You see that it is by virtue of the rela- 
tion of individuals to the nation, of their mem- 
bership in it, that they are entitled to support ; 
and this title is in no way connected with or 
affected by their relations to other individuals 
who are fellow members of the nation with 
them. That any person should be dependent 
for the means of support upon another, would y 
be shocking lo lliii lliunil KOtlsc, as well as 
indefensible on an)' rational Social theory. 
What would become of personal liberty and 



368 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

dignity under such an arrangement? I am 
aware that you called yourselves free in the 
nineteenth century. The meaning of the word 
could not then, however, have been at all 
what it is at present, or you certainly would 
not have applied it to a society of which 
nearly every member was in a position of 
galling personal dependence upon others as to 
the very means of life, the poor upon the rich, 
or employed upon employer, women upon 
men, children upon parents. Instead of dis- 
tributing the product of the nation directly to 
its members, which would seem the most 
natural and obvious method, it would actually 
appear that you had given your minds to 
devising a plan of hand to hand distribution 
involving the maximum of personal humiliation 
to all classes of recipients. 

w As regards the dependence of women upon 
men for support, which then was usual, of 
course natural attraction in case of mar 
riages of love may often have made it endura- 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 369 

ble, though for spirited women I should fancy 
it must always have remained humiliating. 
What, then, must it have been in the innumer- 
able cases where women, with or without 
the form of marriage, had to sell themselves 
to men to get their living ? Even your contem- 
poraries, callous as they* were to most of the 
revolting aspects of their society, seem to have 
had an idea that this was not quite as it should 
be; but, it was still only for pity's sake 
that they deplored the lot of the women. It did 
not occur to them that it was robbery as well 
as cruelty when men seized for themselves the 
whole product of the world and left women to 
beg and wheedle for their share. Why — but 
bless mc, Mr. West, I arn really running on at 
a remarkable rate, just as if the robbery, the 
sorrow, and the shame which those poor 
women endured were not over a century since, 
or as if you were responsible for what you no 
doubt deplored as much as I do." 

" I must bear my share of responsibility fot 



37° LOOKING BACKWARD. 

the world as it then was," I replied. " All I 
can say in extenuation is that until the nation 
was ripe for the present system of organized 
production and distribution, no radical im- 
provement in the position of woman was pos- 
sible. The root of her disability, as you say, 



j was her personal dependence upon man for her 
livelihood, and I can imagine no other mode of 
social organization than that you have adopted 
which would have set woman free of man, at 
the same time that it set men free of one an- 
other. I suppose, by the way, that so entire a 
change in the position of women cannot have 
taken place without affecting in marked ways 
the social relations of the sexes. That will be 
a very interesting study for me." 

"The change you will observe," said Dr. 
Leete, "will chiefly be, I think, the entire 
frankness and unconstraint which now charac- 
terizes those relations, as compared with the 
artificially which seems to have marked them 
in your time. The sexes now meet with the 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 37 a 

ease of perfect equals, suitors to each other for 
nothing but love. In your time the fact that 
women were dependent for support on men, 
made the woman in reality the one chiefly 
benefited by marriage. This fact, so far as 
we can judge from contemporary records, 
appears to have been coarsely enough recog- 
nized among the lower classes, while among 
the more polished it was glossed over by a 
system of elaborate conventionalities which 
aimed to carry the precisely opposite meaning, 
namely, that the man was the party chiefly 
benefited. To keep up this convention it was 
essential that he should always seem the suitor. 
Nothing was therefore considered more shock- 
ing to the proprieties than that a woman 
should betray a fondness for a man before he 
had indicated a desire to marry her. Why, 
we actually have in our libraries books, by 
authors ot your day, written for no other pur- 
pose than to discuss the question whether, 
under- any conceivable circumstances, a 



372 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

woman might, without discredit to her sex, 
reveal an unsolicited love. All this seems 
exquisitely absurd to us, and yet we know 
that, given your circumstances, the problem 
might have a serious side. When for a 
woman to proffer her love to a man was in 
effect to invite him to assume the burden of 
her support, it is easy to see that pride and 
delicacy might well have checked the prompt- 
ings of the heart. When you go out into our 
society, Mr. West, you must be prepared to be 
often cross-questioned on this point by our 
young people, who are naturally much inter- 
ested in this aspect of old-fashioned man- 
ners." • 

w And so the girls of the twentieth century 
lell their love." 

"If they choose," replied Dr. Leete, 
"There is no more pretence of a conceal- 

• I may My that Dr. Lcele's warning has been fully justified by my 
experience. The amount and intensity of amusement which the young 
people of this day, and the young women especially, arc able to extract 
from what they are pleased to call the oddities of courtship in the nine* 
Iwnth century! appear unlimited. 




\ 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 373 

ment of feeling on their part than on the part 
of their lovers. Coquetry would be as much ** 
despised in a girl as in a man. Affected cold- /V"l 
ness, which in your day rarely deceived a 
lover, would deceive him wholly now, for no 
one thinks of practicing it." 

"One result which must follow from the 
independence of women, I can see for myself," t 

I said. "There can be no marriages now, 
except those of inclination." 

" That is a matter of course," replied Dr. 

Leete. 

-% 

"Think of a world in which there are 
nothing but matches of pure love ! Ah, me, 
Dr. Leete, how far you are from being able to • \ 
understand what an astonishing phenomenon 0( 
such a world seems to a man of the nineteenth 
century I n 

* I can, however, to some extent, imagine it," 
replied the doctor. "But the fact you cele- 
brate, that there arc nothing but love matches, 
means even more, perhaps, than you probably 



M ' 



374 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

at first realize. It means that for the first time 
in human history the principle of sexual selec- 
tion, with its tendency to preserve and transmit 
the better types of the race, and let the inferior 
types drop out, has unhindered operation. 
The necessities of poverty, the need of having 
a home, no longer tempt women to accept as 
the fathers of their children men whom they 
neither can love nor respect. Wealth and 
rank no longer divert attention from personal 
qualities. Gold no longer ' gilds the straitened 
forehead of the fool.' The gifts of person, 
mind, and disposition, beauty, wit, eloquence, 
kindness, generosity, geniality, courage, are 
sure of transmission to posterity. Every gen- 
eration is sifted through a little finer mesh than 
the la&t. The attributes that human nature 
admires are preserved, those that repel it are 
left behind. There are, of course, a great 
many women who with love must mingle 
admiration, and seek to wed greatly, but these 
not the less obey the same law, for to wed 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 375 

greatly now is not to marry men of fortune or 
title, but those who have risen above their fel- 
lows by the solidity or brilliance of their ser- 
vices to humanity. These form nowadays the 
only aristocracy with which alliance is distinc- 
tion 

"You were speaking, a day or two ago, 
of the physical superiority of our people to 
your contemporaries. Perhaps more impor- 
tant than any of the causes I mentioned then 
as tending to race purification, has been the 
effect of untrammelled sexual selection upon 
the quality of two or three successive genera- 
tions. I believe that when you have m ade 
a fuller study of our people you will find in 
them not only a phy sical, but a mental and 
moral improvement. It would be strange if it 



were not so, for not only is one of the 
great laws of nature now freely working 
out the salvation of the race, but a pro- 
found moral sentiment has come to its sup- 
port. Individualism, which in your day was 



37^ LOOKING BACKWARD. 

A the animating idea of society, not only waa 
v y fatal to any vital sentiment of brotherhood and 
common interest among living men, but 
equally to any realization of the responsibility 
of the living for the generation to follow. To- 
day this sense of responsibility, practically 
unrecognized in all previous ages, has become 
one of the great ethical ideas of the race, rein- 
forcing, with an intense conviction of duty, the 
natural impulse to seek in marriage the best 
and noblest of the other sex. The result is, 
that not all the encouragements and incentives 
of every sort which we have provided to de- 
velop industry, talent, genius, excellence of 
whatever kind are comparable in their effect 
on our young men with the fact that our 
women sit aloft as judges of the race and 
reserve themselves to reward the winners. 
Of all the whips, and spurs, and baits, and 
prize?, there is none like the thought oi the 
radiant faces, which the laggards will find 
averted. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. Zll 

" Celibates nowadays are almost invariably 
men who have failed to acquit themselves 
creditably in the work of life. The woman 
must be a courageous one, with a very evil 
sort of courage, too, whom pity for one of 
these unfortunates should lead to defy the 
opinion of her generation — for otherwise she 
is free — so far- as to accept him for a husband. 
I should add that, more exacting and difficult 
to resist than any other element in that opin- 
ion, she would find the sentiment of her own 
sex. Our women have risen to the full height 
of their responsibility as the wardens of the 
world to come, to whose keeping the keys of the 
future are confided. Their feeling of duty in 
this respect amounts to a sense of religious 
consecration. It is a cult in which they edu- 
cate their daughters from childhood." 

After going to my room that night, I sat up 
late to read a romance of Berrian, handed me 
by Dr. Leete, the plot of which turned on a 
situation suggested by his last words, concern- 



378 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

ing the modern view of parental responsibility. 
A similar situation would almost certainly have 
been treated by a nineteenth century romancist 
so as to excite the morbid sympathy of the 
reader with the sentimental selfishness of the 
lovers, and his resentment towards the unwrit- 
ten law which they outraged. I need not 
describe — for who has not read w Ruth 
Elton "? — how different is the course which 
Berrian takes, and with what tremendous 
efFect he enforces the principle which he 
states : w Over the unborn our power is that 
of God, and our responsibility like his towards 
us. As we acquit ourselves toward them, so 
let Him deal with us." 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 379 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

T THINK if a person were ever excusable for 
•* losing track of the days of the week, the cir- 
cumstances excused me. Indeed, if I had 
been told that the method of reckoning time 
had been wholly changed and the days were 
now counted in lots of five, ten, or fifteen 
instead of seven, I should have been in no way 
surprised after what I had already heard and 
seen of the twentieth century. The first time 
that any inquiry as to the days of the week oc- 
curred to me, was the morning following the 
conversation related in the last chapter. At 
the breakfast table Dr. Leete asked me if 
I would care to hear a sermon. 

"Is it Sunday, then?" I exclaimed. 

n Yes," he replied. " It was Friday of last 
week you see when we made the lucky dis- 
"wery of the buried chamber to which we 



380 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

owe your society this morning. It was Satur- 
day morning soon after midnight that you first 
awoke, and Sunday afternoon when you awoke 
the second time with faculties fully regained." 

" So you still have Sundays and sermons," 
I said. "We had prophets who foretold that 
long before this time the world would have 
dispensed with both. I am very curious to 
know how the ecclesiastical systems fit in with 
the rest of your social arrangements. I sup- 
pose you have a sort of national church with 
official clergymen.* 

Dr. Leete laughed, and Mrs. Leete and 
Edith seemed greatly amused. 

"Why Mr. West," Edith said, "what odd 
people you must think us. You were quite 
done wit'-i national religious establishments in 
the nineteenth century, and did you fancy we 
had gone back to them ? " 

"But how can voluntary churches and an 
unofficial clerical profession be reconciled with 
national ownership of all buildings, and the 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 38 1 

industrial servce required of all men? n I 
mswered. 

n The religious practices of the people have 
naturally changed considerably in a century," 
replied Dr. Lecte; "but supposing them to 
have remained unchanged, our social system 
would accommodate them perfectly. The 
nation supplies any person or number of per- 
sons with buildings on guarantee of the rent, 
and they remain tenants while they pay it. As 
for the clergymen, if a number of persons wish 
the services of an individual for any particu- 
lar end of their own, apart from the general 
service of the nation, they can always secure 
it, with that individual's own consent of course, 
just as we secure the service of our editors, 
by contributing from their credit-cards an 
indemnity to the nation for the loss of his 
services in general industry. This indemnity 
paid the nation for the individual, answers to 
the salary in your day paid to the individual 
himself; and the various applications of this 



382 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

principle leave private initiative full play in 
all details to which national control is not 
applicable. Now as to hearing a sermon 
to-day, if you wish to do so, you can either go 
to a church to hear it or stay at home." 
w How am I to hear it if I stay at home ? ' 
" Simply by accompanying us to the music 
room at the proper hour, and selecting an easy 
ckair. There are some who still prefer to 
hear sermons in church, but most of our 
preaching, like our musical performances, is 
not in public, but delivered in acoustically 
prepared chambers, connected by wire with 
subscribers' houses. If you prefer to go to a 
church I shall be glad to accompany you, but 
I really don't believe you are likely to hear 
anywhere a better discourse than you will at 
home. I see by the paper that Mr. Barton is 
to preach this morning, and he preaches only 
by telephone, and to audiences often reaching 
150,000." 
* The novelty of the experience of hearing a 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 383 

sermon under such circumstances would in- 
cline me to be one of Mr. Barton's hearers, if 
no other reason," I said. 

An hour or two later, as I sat reading in the 
library, Edith came for me, and I followed her 
to the music room, where Dr. and Mrs. Leete 
were waiting. We had not more than seated 
ourselves comfortably when the tinkle of a bell 
was heard, and a few moments after the voice 
of a man, at the pitch of ordinary conversation, 
addressed us, with an effect of proceeding 
from an invisible person in the room. This 
was what the voice said : 

MR. BARTON'8 SERMON. 

"We have had among us, during the past 
week, a critic from the nineteenth century, a 
living representative of the epoch of our great- 
grandparents. It would be strange if a fact so 
extraordinary had not somewhat strongly 
affected our imaginations. Perhaps most of 
us have been stimulated to some effort to 



384 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

realize the society of a century ago, and figure 
to ourselves what it must have been like to 
live then. In inviting you now to consider 
certain reflections upon this subject which have 
occurred to me, I presume that I shall rather 
follow than divert the course of your own 
thoughts." 

Edith whispered something to her father at 
this point, to which he nodded assent and 
turned to me. 

w Mr. West," he said, w Edith suggests that 
you may find it slightly embarrassing to listen 
to a discourse on the lines Mr. Barton is lay- 
ing down, and if so, you need not be cheated 
out of a sermon. She will connect us with 
Mr. Sweetser's speaking room if you say so, 
and I can still promise you a very good dis- 
course." 



tf 



No no," I said. * Believe me, I would 
much rather hear what Mr. Barton has to 
•ay." 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 385 

"As you please," replied my host. 

When her father spoke to me Edith had 
touched a screw and the voice of Mr. Barton 
had ceased abruptly. Now at another touch 
the room was once more filled with the earnest 
sympathetic tones which had already im- 
pressed me most favorably. 

" I venture to assume that one effect has been 
common with us as a result of this effort at 
retrospection, and that it has been to leave us 
more than ever amazed at the stupendous 
change which one brief century has made in 
the material and moral conditions of humanity. 

" Still, as regards the contrast between the 
poverty of the nation and the world in the 
nineteenth century and their wealth now, it is 
not greater, possibly, than had been before 
seen in human history, perhaps not greater, 
for example, than that between the poverty of 
this country during the earliest colonial 
period of the seventeenth century and the 



386 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

relatively great wealth it had attained at the 
close of the nineteenth, or between the Eng- 
land of William the Conqueror and that of 
Victoria. Although the aggregate riches of 
a nation did not then, as now, afford any 
accurate criterion of the condition of the 
masses of its people, yet, instances like these 
afford partial parallels for the merely material 
side of the contrast between the nineteenth 
and the twentieth centuries. It is when we 
contemplate the moral aspect of that contrast 
that we find ourselves in the presence of a 
phenomenon for which history offers no prece- 
dent, however far back we may cast our eye. 
One might almost be excused who should 
exclaim, 'Here, surely, is something like a 
miracle !' Nevertheless, when we give over 
idle wonder and begin to examine the seeming 
prodigy critically, we find it no prodigy at all, 
much less a miracle. It is not necessary to 
suppose a moral new birth of humanity, or a 
wholesale destruction of the wicked, and sur- 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 387 

vival of the good, l> account for the fact 
before us. It finds its simple and obvious 
explanation in the reaction of a changed en- 
vironment upon human nature. It means 
merely that a form of society which was 
founded on the pscudo sclf-intcrcst of selfish- 
ness, and appealed solely to the anti-social 
and brutal side of human nature, has been 
replaced by institutions based on the true self- 
interest of a rational unselfishness, and appeal- 
ing to the social and generous instincts of 
men. 

" My friends, if you would see men again 
the wild beasts they seemed in the nine- 
teenth century, all you have to do is to restore 
the old social and industrial svstem, which 
taught them to view their natural prey in their 
fellow-men, and find their gain in the loss of 
others. No doubt it seems to you that no 
necessity, however dire, would have tempted 
you to subsist on what superior skill or 
strength enaHed you to wrest from others 




388 LOOKING BACKWARD 

equally needy. But suppose it were not 
merely your own life that you were responsible 
for. I know well that there must have been 
many a man among our ancestors who, if 
it had been merely a question of his own life, 
would sooner have given it up than nourished 
it by bread snatched from others. But this he 
was not permitted to do. He had dear lives 
dependent on him. Men loved women in 
those days, as now. God knows how they 
dared be fathers, but they had babies as sweet, 
no doubt, to them as ours to us, whom they 
must feed, clothe, educate. The gentlest crea- 
tures are fierce when they have young to pro- 
vide for, and in that wolfish society the strug- 
gle for bread borrowed a peculiar desperation 
from the tenderest sentiments. For the sake 
of those dependent on him, a man might no 4 
choose, but must plunge into the foul fight, 
— iheat, overreach, supplant, defraud, buy 
below worth and sell f bove, break down the 
bcwness bv which his neighbor fed his young 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 389 

ones, tempt men to buy what they ought uot 
and to sell what they should not, grind his 
latarers, sweat his debtors, cozen his creditors. 
Though a man sought it carefully with tears, 
it was hard to find a way in which he could 
earn a living and provide lor his family except 
by pressing in before some weaker rival and 
taking the food from his mouth. Even the 
ministers of religion were not exempt from 
this cruel necessity- While they warned their 
flocks against the love of money, regard for 
their families compelled them to keep an out- 
look for the pecuniary prizes of their calling. 
Poor fellows, theirs was indeed a trying busi- 
ness, preaching to men a generosity and unself- 
ishness which they, and everybody, knew 
would, in the existing state of the world 
reduce to poverty those who should practice 
them, laying down laws of conduct which 
the law of self-preservation compelled men 
to break. Looking on the inhuman spec- 
tacle of society, these worthy men bitterly 



39<> LOOKING BACKWARD. 

bemoaned the depravity of human nature \ as 
if angelic nature would not have been de- 
bauched in such a devil's school ! Ah, my 
friends, believe me, it is not now in this happy 
age that humanity is proving the divinity 
within it. It was rather in those evil days 
when not even the fight for life with one an- 
other, the struggle for mere existence, in 
which mercy was folly, could wholly banish 
generosity and kindness from the earth. 

" It is not hard to understand the desperation 
with which men and women, who under other 
conditions would have been full of gentleness 
and ruth, fought and tore each other in the 
scramble for gold; when we realize what il 
meant to miss it, what poverty was in that 
day. For the body it was hunger and thirst, 
torment by heat and frost, in sickness, neglect, 
in health, unremitting toil ; for the moral 
nature it meant oppression, contempt, and the 
patient endurance of indignity, brutish associ- 
ations from infancy, the loss of all the inno- 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 391 

ccnce of childhood, the grace of womanhood, 
the dignity of manhood; for the mind it 
meant the death of ignorance, the torpor of 
all those faculties which distinguish us from 
brutes, the reduction of life to a round of 
bodily functions. 

* Ah, my friends, if such a fate as this were 
offered you and your children as the only 
alternative of success in the accumulation of 
wealth, how long do you fancy would you be 
in sinking to the moral level of your an- 
cestors ? 

" Some two or three centuries ago an act of 
barbarity was committed in India, which, 
though the number of lives destroyed was but 
a few score, was attended by such peculiar 
horrors that its memory is likely to be perpet- 
ual. A number of English prisoners were 
shut up in a room containing not enough air 
to supply one tenth their number. The unfor- 
tunates were gallant men, devoted comrades 
in service, but, as the agonies of suffocation 



392 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

began to take hold on them, they forgot all 
else, and became involved in a hideous strug 
gle, each one for himself, and against all 
others, to force a way to one of the small 
apertures of the prison at which alone it was 
possible to get a breath of air. It was a 
struggle in which men became beasts, and the 
recital of its horrors by the few survivors 
so shocked our forefathers that for a cen- 
tury later we find it a stock reference in 
their literature as a typical illustration of 
the extreme possibilities of human misery, as 
shocking in its moral as its physical aspect. 
They could scarcely have anticipated that to 
us the Black Hole of Calcutta, with its press 
of maddened men tearing and trampling one 
another in the struggle to win a place at the 
breathing holes, would seem a striking type 
of the society of their age. It lacked some- 
thing of being a complete type, however, for in 
the Calcutta Black Hole there were no tender 
women, no little children and old men and 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 393 

women, no cripples. They were at least all 
men, strong to bear, who suffered. 

w When we reflect that the ancient order of 
which I have been speaking was prevalent up 
to the end of the nineteenth century, while to 
us the new order which succeeded it already 
seems antique, even our parents having 
known no other, we cannot fail to be as- 
tounded at the suddenness with which a tran- 
sition so profound beyond all previous cxperi- 
rience of the race, must have been effected. 
Some observation of the state of men's minds 
during the last quarter of the nineteenth 
century will however, in great measure, 
dissipate this astonishment. Though general 
intelligence in the modern sense could not be 
said to exist in any community at that time, 
yet, as compared with previous generations, 
the one then on the stage was intelligent. The 
inevitable consequence of even this compara- 
tive degree of intelligence had been a percep- 
tion of the evils of society, such as had never 



394 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

before been general. It is quite true that 
these evils had been even worse, much worse, 
in previous ages. It was the increased intelli- 
gence of the masses which made the difference, 
as the dawn reveals the squalor of surround- 
ings which in the darkness may have seemed 
tolerable. The key-note of the literature of 
the period was one of compassion for the poor 
and unfortunate, and indignant outcry against 
the failure of the social machinery to ameli- 
orate the miseries of men. It is plain from 
these outbursts that the moral hideousness of 
the spectacle about them was, at least by 
flashes, fully realized by the best of the men 
of that time, and that the lives of some of 
the more sensitive and generous hearted of 
them were rendered well-nigh unendurable 
by the intensity of their sympathies. 

w Although the idea of the vital unity of the 
family of mankind, the reality of human 
brotherhood, was very far from being appre- 
hended by them as the moral axiom it 



> 



LOOKtNG BACKWARD. 395 

> 

seems to us, yjt it is a mistake to suppose 
that there was 4 no feeling at all correspond- 
ing to it. 1 c.ould read you passages of 

* 

great beauty frorn some of their writers which 
show that the' conception was clearly at- 
tained by a ft^w, and no doubt vaguely by 
many more.* Moreover, it must not be forgot- 
ten that the nineteenth century was in name 
Christian, and the fact that the entire commer- 
cial and industrial frame of society was. the 
embodiment of the anti-Christian spirit, must 
have had some weight, though I admit it was 
strangely little, with the nominal followers of 
Jesus Christ. 

"When we inquire why it did not have more, 
why in general, long after a vast majority of 
men had agreed as to the crying abuses of the 
existing social arrangement, they still toler- 
ated it, or contented themselves with talking 
of petty reforms in it, we come upon an 
extraordinary fact. It was the sincere beliel 
of even the best of men at that epoch that the 



Zqb LOOKING BACKWARD. 

only stable elements in tinman nature, on 
which a social system could b . safely founded, 
were its worst propensities. They had been 
taught and believed that greed and self-seek- 
ing were all that held mankind together, and 
that all human associations would fall to pieces 
if anything were done to blunt the edge of 
these motives or curb their operation. In a 
word, they believed — even those who longed 
to believe otherwise — the exact reverse of 
what seems to us self-evident ; they believed, 
that is, that the anti-social qualities of men, and 
not their social qualities, were what furnished 
the cohesive force of society. It seemed rea- 
sonable to them that men lived together solely 
for the purpose of overreaching and oppres- 
sing one another, and of being overreached and 
oppressed, and that while a society that gave ' 
full scope to these propensities could stand, 
there would be little chance for one based on 
the idea of co-operation for the benefit of all. 
It seems absurd to expect any one to believe 



LOOKING BACKWARD, 397 

that convictions like these were ever seriously 
entertained by men ; but that they were not 
only entertained by our great-grandfathers, 
but were responsible for the long delay in do- 
ing away with the ancient order, after a con- 
viction of its intolerable abuses had become 
general, is as well established as any fact in 
history can be. Just here you will find the 
explanation of the profound pessimism of the 
literature of the last quarter of the nineteenth 
century, the note of melancholy in its poetry, 
and the cynicism of its humor. 

* Feeling that the condition of the race was 
unendurable, they had no clear hope of any- 
thing better. They believed that the evolution 
of humanity had resulted in loading it into a 
culde sac, and that there was no way of get- 
ting forward. The frame of men's minds at 
this time is strikingly illustrated by treatises 
which have come down to us, and may even 
now be consulted in our libraries by the curi- 
ous, in which laborious argument* are pursued 



39* LOOKING BACKWARD. 

to prove that despite the evil plight of men, life 
was still, by some slight preponderance of con- 
siderations, probably better worth living than 
leaving. Despising themselves, they despised 
their Creator. There was a general decay of 
religious belief. Pale and watery gleams, 
from skies thickly veiled by doubt and dread, 
alone lighted up the chaos of earth. That 
men should doubt Him whose breath is in 
their nostrils, or dread the hands that moulded 
them, seems to us indeed a pitiable insanity ; 
but we must remember that children who are 
brave by day have sometimes foolish fears at 
night. The dawn has come since then. It is 

O r — 

vejy_fiag y t° believe in the fatherhood of God 
in the twentieth century. 

w Briefly, as must needs be in a discourse of 
this character, I have adverted to some of the 
causes which had prepared men's minds for 
the change from the old to the new order, as 
well as some causes of the conservatism of 
despair which for a while held it back after 



LOOKING BACKWARD, 399 

the time was ripe. To wonder at the rapidity 
with which the change was completed after its 
possibility was first entertained, is to forget the 
intoxicating effect of hope upon minds long 
accustomed to despair. The sunburst, after 
so long and dark a night, must needs have 
had a dazzling effect. From the moment men 
allowed themselves to believe that humanity 
after all had not been meant for a dwarf, that 
its squat stature was not the measure of its 
possible growth, but that it stood upon the 
verge of an avatar of limitless development, 
the reaction must needs have been overwhelm- 
ing, it is evident that nothing was able to 
stand against the enthusiasm which the new > 
faith inspired. 

"Here at last, men must have felt, was a 
cause compared with which the grandest of 
historic causes had been trivial. It was doubt- 
less because it could have commanded millions 
of martyrs, that none were needed. The 
change of a dynasty in a petty kingdom of the 



4©0 LOOKING BACKWARD, 

m 

old world often cost more lives than did the 
revolution which set the feet of the human race 
at last in the right way. 

w Doubtless it ill beseems one to whom the 
boon of life in our resplendent age has been 
vouchsafed to wish his destiny other and yet J 
have often thought that I would fain exchange 
my share in this serene and golden day for a 
place in that stormy epoch of transition, when 
heroes burst the barred gate of the future and 
revealed to the kindling gaze of a hopeless 
race, in place of the blank wall that had 
closed its path, a vista of progress whose 
end, for very excess of light, still dazzles us. 
Ah, my friends ! who will say that to have 
lived then, when the weakest influence was a 
lever to whose touch the centuries trembled, 
was not worth a share, even in this era of frui- 
tion? 

w You know the story of that last, greatest, 
and most bloodless of revolutions. In the 
time of one generation men laid aside the 




LOOKING BACKWARD, 4OI 

social traditions and practices of barbarians* 
and assumed a social order worthy of rational 
and human beings. Ceasing to be predatory 
in their habits, they bccaine co-workers, and 
found in fraternity, at once, the science of 
wealth and of happiness. ' What shall I eat 
and drink, and wherewithal shall I be 
clothed?' stated as a problem beginning and 
ending in self, had been an anxious and an 
endless one. But when once it was conceived, 
not from the individual, but the fraternal stand- 
point, ' What shall we eat and drink, and 
wherewithal shall we be clothed?' — its difB- 
cullies vanished. 

M Poverty with servitude had been the result 
for the mass of humanity, of attempting to 
solve the problem of maintenance from the 
individual standpoint, but no sooner had the 
nation become the sole capitalist and employe/, 
than not alone did plenty replace poverty, but 
the last vestige of the serfdom of man to man 
disappeared from earth. Human slavery, 9t 



402 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

often vainly scotched, at last was killed. The 

a 

means of subsistence no longer doled out by 
men to women, by employer to employed, by 
rich to poor, was distributed from a common 
stock as among children at the father's table. 
It was impossible for a man any longer to 
use his fellow-men as tools for his own profit. 
His esteem was the only sort of gain he 
could thenceforth make out of him. There 
was no more* either arrogance or servility in 
the relations o( human beings to one another. 
For the first time since the creation every 
man stood up straight before God. The fear, 
of want and the lust of gain became extinct 
motives, when abundance was assured to all 
and immoderate possessions made impossible 
of attainment. There were no more beggars 
nor almoners. Equity left charity without an 
occupation. The ten commandments became 
well-nigh obsolete in a world where there was 
no temptation to theft, no occasion to lie either 
for fear or favor, no room for envy where all 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 403 

were equal, and little provocation to violence 
where men were disarmed of power to injure 
one another. Humanity's ancient dream of 
liberty, equality, fraternity, mocked by so 
many ages, at last was realized. £^ 

"As in the old society the generous, the just, 
the tender-hearted had been placed at a dis- 
advantage by the possession of those qualities, 
so in the new society the cold-hearted, the 
greedy and self-seeking found themselves out 
of joint with the world. Now that the condi- 
tions of life for the first time ceased to operate 
as a forcing process to develop the brutal 
qualities of human nature, and the premium 
whicl. had heretofore encouraged selfishness 
was not only removed, but placed upon un- 
selfishness, it was for the first time possible to 
see what unperverted human nature really 
was like. The depraved tendencies, which 
had previously overgrown and obscured the 
better to so large an extent, now withered 
like cellar fungi in the open air, and the 



404 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

nobler qualities showed a sudden luxuriance 
which turned cynics into panegyrists and for 
the first time in human history tempted man- 
kind to fall in love with itself. Soon was fully 
revealed, what the divines and philosophers 
of the old world never would have believed, 
that human nature in its essential qualities is 

good, not bad, that men by their natural in ten- 

'^ "■■^»» 

tion and structure are generous, not selfish, 
pitiful, not cruel, sympathetic, not arrogant, 
godlike in aspirations, instinct with divinest im- 
pulses of tenderness and self-sacrifice, images 
of God indeed, not the travesties upon him 
they had seemed. The constant pressure, 
through numberless generations, of conditions 
of life which might have perverted angels, 
had not been able to essentially alter the 
natural nobility of the stock, and these condi- 
tions once removed, like a bent tree, it had 
sprung back to its normal uprightness. 

"To put the whole matter in the nutshell of a 
parable, let me compare humanity in the 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 405 

olden lime to a rosebush planted in a swamp, 
watered with black bog-water, breathing mias- 
matic fogs by day, and chilled with poison dews 
at night. Innumerable generations of garden- 
ers had done their best to make it bloom, but 
beyond an occasional half-opened bud with a 
worm at the heart, their efforts had been un- 
successful. Many, indeed, claimed that the 
bush was no rosebush at all, but a noxious 
shrub, fit only to be uprooted and burned. 
The gardeners, for the most part, however, 
held that the bush belonged to the rose family, 
but had some ineradicable taint about it, which 
prevented the buds from coming out, and 
accounted for its generally sickly condition. 
There were a few, indeed, who maintained that 
the stock was good enough, that the trouble 
was in the bog, and that under more favorable 
conditions, the plant might be expected to do 
better. But th*:se persons were not regular 
gardeners, and being condemned by the latter 
as mere theorists and day dreamers, were, for 



406 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

the most part, so regarded by the people 
Moreover, urged some eminent moral philos- 
ophers, even conceding for the sake of the 
argument that the bush might possibly do 
better elsewhere, it was a more valuable disci- 
pline for the buds to try to bloom in a bog than 
it would be under more favorable conditions. 
The buds that succeeded in opening might, 
indeed, be very rare and the flowers pale and 
scentless, but they represented far more moral 
effort than if they had bloomed spontaneously 
in a garden. 

w The regular gardeners and the moral phil- 
osophers had their way. The bush remained 
rooted in the bog, and the old course of treat- 
ment went on. Continually new varieties of 
forcing mixtures were applied to the roots, and 
more recipes than could be numbered, each 
declared by its advocates the best and only 
suitable preparation, were used to kill the 
vermin and remove the mildew. This went 
on a very long time. Occasionally some one 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 407 

claimed to observe a slight improvement in 
the appearance of the bush, but there were 
quite as many who declared that it did not look 
so well as it used to. On the whole there 
could not be said to be any marked change. 
Finally, during a period of general despond- 
ency as to the prospects of the bush where it 
was, the idea of transplanting it was again 
mooted, and this time found favor. ' Let us 
try it,' was the general voice. • Perhaps it 
may thrive better elsewhere, and here it is cer- 
tainly doubtful if it be worth cultivating 
longer.' So it came about that the rosebush 
of humanity was transplanted, and set in 
sweet, warm, dry earth, where the sun bathed 
it, the stars wooed it, and the south wind ca- 
ressed it. Then it appeared that it was 
indeed a rosebush. The vermin und the mil- 
dew disappeared, and the bush was covered 
with most beautiful red roses, whose fragrance 
tilled the world. 

w It is a pledge of the destiny appointed for 



408 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

us that the Creator has set in our hearts au 
infinite standard of achievement, judged by 
which our past attainments seem always insig- 
nificant, and the goal never nearer. Mad our 
forefathers conceived a state of society in which 
men should live together like brethren dwell- 
ing iu unity, without strifes or envyings, vio- 
lence or overreaching, and where, at the price 
of a degree of labor not greater than health 
demands, in their chosen occupations, they 
should be wholly freed from care for the mor- 
row and left with no more concern for their 
livelihood than trees which are watered by un- 
failing streams, — had they conceived such a 
condition, I say, it would have semed to them 
nothing less than paradise. They would have 
confounded it with their idea of heaven, nor 
dreamed that there could possibly lie further 
beyond anything to be desired or striven for. 

"But how is it with us who stand on this 
height which they gazed up to? Already we 
have well-nigh forgotten, except when it is 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 409 

especially called to our minds by some occa- 
sion like the present, that it was not always 
with men as it is now. It is a strain on our 
imaginations to conceive the social arrange- 
ments of our immediate ancestors. We find 
them grotesque. The solution of the problem 
of physical maintenance so as to banish care 
and crime, so far from seeming to us an ulti- 
mate attainment, appears but as a preliminary 
to anything like real human progress. We 
have but relieved ourselves of an impertinent 
and needless harassment which hindered our 
ancestors from undertaking the real ends of 
existence. We are merely stripped for the 
race; no more. We are like a child which 
has just learned to stand upright and to walk. 
It is a great event from the child's point of 
view, when he first walks. Perhaps he fan- 
cies that there can be little beyond that 
achievement, but a year later he has forgotten 
that he could not always walk. His horizon 
did but widen when he rose, and enlarge as 



4IO LOOKING BACKWARD, 

he moved. A great event indeed, in one 
sense, was his first step, but only as a begin- 
ning, not as the end. His true career was 
but then first entered on. -The enfranchise- 
ment of humanity in the last century, from 
mental and physical absorption in working 
and scheming for the mere bodily necessities, 
may be regarded as a species of seco ncUbirth 
of the race, without which its first birth to an 
existence that was but a burden would forever 
have remained unjustified, but whereby it is 
now abundantly vindicated. Since then, hu- 
manity has entered on a new phase of spirit- 
ual development, an evolution of higher facul- 
ties, the very existence of which in human 
nature our ancestors scarcely suspected. In 
place of the dreary hopelessness of the nine- 
teenth century, its profound pessimism as to 
the future of humanity, the animating idea of 
the present age is an enthusiastic conception of 
the opportunities of our earthly existence, and 
the unbounded possibilities of human nature. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 411 

The betterment of mankind from generation 
to generation, physically, mentally, morally, 
is recognized as the one great object su- 
premely worthy of effort and of sacrifice. We 
believe the race for the first time to have en- 
tered on the realization of God's ideal of it, 
and each generation must now be a step 
upward. 

w Do you ask what we look for when unnum- 
bered generations shall have passed away? 
I answer, the way stretches far before us but 
the end is lost in light. For twofold is the 
return of man to God ' who is our home,' the 
return of the individual by the way of death, 
and the return of the race by the fulfilment of 
its evolution, when the divine secret hidden in 
the germ shall be perfectly unfolded. With a 
tear for the dark past, turn we then to the 
dazzling future, and, veiling our eyes, press 
forward. The long and weary winter of the 
rare is ended. Its summer has begun. Hu- 
manity has hurst the chrysalis. The heavens 
are before it."* 



412 LOOKING BACKWARD, 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

T NEVER could tell just why, but Sunday 
J * afternoon during my old life had been 
a time when I was peculiarly subject to mel- 
ancholy, when the color unaccountably faded 
out of all the aspects of life, and everything 
appeared pathetically uninteresting. The 
hours, which in general were wont to bear 
me easily on their wings, lost the power of 
flight and, toward the close of the day droop- 
ing quite to earth, had fairly to be dragged 
along by main strength. Perhaps it was 
partly owing to the established association of 
ideas that, despite the utter change in my cir- 
cumstances, I fell into a state of profound 
depression on the afternoon of this my first 
Sunday in the twentieth century. 

It was not, however, on the present occa- 
sion a depression without specific cause, the 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 413 

mere vague melancholy I have spoken of, but 
a sentiment suggested and certainly quite 
justified by my position. The sermon of Mr. 
Barton, with its constant implication of the 
vast moral gap between the century to which 
I belonged and that in which I found myself, 
had had an effect strongly to accentuate my 
sense of loneliness in it. Considerately and 
philosophically as he had spoken, his words 
could scarcely have failed to leave upon my 
mind a strong impression of the mingled 
pity, curiosity, and aversion which I, as a 
representative of an abhorred epoch, must 
excite in all around me. 

The extraordinary kindness with which I 
had been treated by Dr. Leete and his family, 
and especially the goodness of Edith, had 
hitherto prevented my fully realizing that 
their real sentiment toward me must neces- 
sarily dc that of the whole generation to which 
they belonged. The recognition of this, as 
regarded Dr. Leete and his amiable wife, 



<fl* LOOKING BACKWARD. 

however painful, I might have endured, but 
the conviction that Edith must share their feel- 
ing was more than I could bear. 

The crushing effect with which this belated 
perception of a fact so obvious came to me, 
opened my eyes fully to something which per- 
haps the reader has already suspected, — I 
loved Edith. 

Was it strange that I did? The affecting 
occasion on which our intimacy had begun, 
when her hands had drawn me out of 
the whirlpool of madness ; the fact that her 
sympathy was the vital breath which had set 
me up in this new life and enabled me to sup- 
port it ; my habit of looking to her as the 
mediator between me and the world around in 
a sense that even her father was not, — these 
were circumstances that had predetermined 
a result which her remarkable loveliness of 
person and disposition would alone have ac- 
counted for. It was quite inevitable that 
she should have come to seem to me in a sense 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 415 

quite different from the usual experience ol 
lovers, the only woman in this world. Now 

* 

that I had become suddenly sensible of the 
fatuity of the hopes I had begun to cherish, I 
suffered not merely what another lover might, 
but in addition a desolate loneliness, an utter 
forlornness, such as no other lover, however 
unhappy could have felt. 

My hosts evidently saw that I was depressed 
in spirits, and did their best to divert me. 
Edith especially, I could see, was distressed 
for me, but according to the usual perversity 
of lovers, having once been so mad as to 
dream of receiving something more from her, 
'here was no longer any virtue for me in a 
kindness that I knew was only sympathy. 

Toward nightfall, after secluding myself in 
my room most of the afternoon, I went into 
the garden to walk about. The day was 
overcast, with an autumnal flavor in the 
.warm, still air. Finding myself near the 
excavation, I entered the subterranean cham 



418 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

m 

that I know it is pity merely, sweet pity, but 
pity only. I should be a fool not to know that 
I cannot seem to you as other men of your own 
generation do, but as some strange uncanny 
being, a stranded creature of an unknown 
sea, whose forlornness touches your compas- 
sion despite its grotesqueness. I have been 
so foolish, you were so kind, as to almost forget 
that this must needs be so, and to fancy I 
might in time become naturalized, as we used 
to say, in this age, so as to feel like one of 
you and to seem to you like the other men 
about you. But Mr. Barton's sermon taught 
me how vain such a fancy is, how great 
the gulf between us must seem to you." 

w Oh that miserable sermon ! " she ex- 
claimed, fairly crying now in her sympathy, 
"I wanted you not to hear it. What does 
he know of you? He has read in old 
musty books about your times, that is all. 
What do you care about him, to let yourself 
be vexed by anything he said? Isn't it any* 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 419 

thing to you, that we who know you feel dif- 
ferently? Don't you care more about what 
we think of you than what he does who never 
saw you? Oh, Mr. West I you don't know, 
you can't think, how it makes me feel to see 
you so forlorn. I can't have it so. What can 
I say to you? How can I convince you how 
different our feeling for you is from what you 
think?" 

As before, in that other crisis of my fate 
when she had come to me, she extended her 
hands toward me in a gesture of helpfulness, 
and, as then, I caught and held them in my 
own ; her bosom heaved with strong emotion, 
and little tremors in the fingers which I 
clasped emphasized the depth of her feeling. 
In her face, pity contended in a sort of divine 
spite against the obstacles which reduced it 
to impotence. Womanly compassion surely 
never wore a guise more lovely. 

Such beauty and such goodness quite melted 
me, and it seemed that the only fitting response 



+20 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

I could make was to tell her just the truth. 
Of course I had not a spark of hope, but on 
the other hand I had no fear that she would be 
angry. She was too pitiful for that. So I 
said presently, "It is very ungrateful in me 
not to be satisfied with such kindness as you 
have shown me, and are showing me now. 
But are you so blind as not to see why they 
are not enough to make me happy? Don't 
you see that it is because I have been mad 
enough to love you ? " 

At my last words she blushed deeply and 
her eyes fell before mine, but she made no 
effort to withdraw her hand:* from my clasp. 
For some moments she stood so, panting a 
little. Then blushing deeper than ever, but 
with a dazzling smile, she looked up. 

"Are you sure it is not you who are blind?" 
she said. 

That was all, but it was enough, for it told 
me that unaccountable, incredible as il was, 
this radiant daughter of a golden age had 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 42I 

bestowed upon me not alone her pity, but her 
love. Still, I half believed I must be under 
some blissful hallucination even as I clasped 
her in my arms. w If I am beside myself,* I 
cried, w let me remain so." 

"It is I whom you must think beside my- 
self," she panted, escaping from my arms when 
I had barely tasted the sweetness of her lips. 
" Oh I oh I what must you think of me almost 
to throw myself in the arms of one I have 
known but a week? I did not mean that 
you should find it out so soon, but I was so 
sorry for you I forgot what I was saying. 
No, no, you must not touch me again till 
you know who I am. After that, sir, you 
shall apologize to me very humbly for think* 
ing, as I know you do, that I have been over 
quick to fall in love with you. After you 
know who I am, you will be bound to confess 
that it was nothing less than my duly to fall in 
love with you at first sight, and that no girl of 
proper feeling in my place could do otherwise/ 



\1% LOOKING BACKWARD. 

As may be supposed, I would have been 
quite content to waive explanations, but Edith 
was resolute that there should be no more 
kisses until she had been vindicated from all 
suspicion of precipitancy in the bestowal of 
her affections, and I was fain to follow the 
lovely enigma into the house. Having come 
where her mother was, she blushingly whis- 
pered something in her ear and ran away, 
leaving us together. 
It then appeared that, strange as my ex- 

^ perience had been, I was now first to know 

yz what was perhaps its strangest feature. From 
Mrs. Leete I learned that Edith was the great 
grand-daughter of no other than my lost love, 
Edith Bartlett. 

^y After mourning me for fourteen years, she 
J^ had made a marriage of esteem, and left a son 

v who had been Mrs. Leete's father. Mrs. 
Leete had never seen her grand-mother, but 
had heard much of her, and when her daugh- 
ter was born gave her the name of Edith. 



? 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 423 

This fact might have tended to increase the 
interest which the girl took, as she grew up, in 
all that concerned her ancestress, and espec- 
ially the tragic story of the supposed death of 
the lover, whose wife 6he expected to be, 
in the conflagration of his house. It was a 
tale well calculated to touch the sympathy 
of a romantic girl, and the fact that the blood 
of the unfortunate heroine was in her own 
veins, naturally heightened Edith's interest in 
it. A portrait of Edith Bartlctt and some of 
her papers, including a packet of my own 
letters, were among the family heirlooms. 
The picture represented a very beautiful 
young woman about whom it was easy to 
imagine all manner of tender and romantic 
things. My letters gave Edith some material 
for forming a distinct idea of my personality, 
and both together sufficed to make the sad old 
story very real to her. She used to tell her 
parents, half jestingly, that she would never 
marry till she found a lover like Julian West, 
and there were none such nowadays* 



4*4 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

Now all this, of course, was merely the 
day-dreaming of a girl whose mind had never 
been taken up by a love affair of her own, 
and would have had no serious consequence 
but for the discovery that morning of the buried 
vault in her father's garden and the revelation 
of the identity of its inmate. For when the 
apparently lifeless form had been borne into 
the house, the face in the locket found upon 
the breast was instantly recognized as that of 
Edith Bartlett, and by that fact, taken in con- 
nection with the other circumstances, they 
knew that I was* no other than Julian West. 
Even had there been no thought as at first 
there was not, of my resuscitation, Mrs. Leete 
said she believed that this event would have 
affected her daughter in a critical and life- 
long manner. The presumption of some subtle 
ordering of destiny, involving her fate with 
mine, would under the circumstances have 
possessed an irresistible fascination for almost 
any woman. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 425 

Whether when I came back to life a few 
hours afterward, and from the first seemed to 
turn to her with a peculiar dependence and to 
find a special solace in her company, she hac* 
neon too quick in giving her love at the firat 
sign of mine, I could now, her mother said, 
judge for myself. If I thought so, I must re- 
member that this, after all, was the twentieth 
and not the nineteenth century, and love was, 
no doubt, now quicker in growth, as well as 
franker in utterance than then. 

From Mrs. Leete I went to Edith. When 1 
found her, it was first of all to take her by 
both hands and stand a long time in rapt con- 
templation of her lace. As 1 gazed, the mem- 
ory of that other Edith, which had been 
affected as with a benumbing shock by the 
tremendous experience that had parted us, 
revived, and my heart was dissolved with ten- 
der and pitiful emotions, but also very bliss- 
ful ours. For she who brought to me so 
poignantly the sense of my loss, was to make 



426 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

that loss good. It was as if from her eyes 
Edith Bartlett looked into mine, and smiled 
consolation to me. My fate was not alone the 
strangest, but the most fortunate that ever 
befel' a man. A double miracle had been 
wrought for me. I had not been stranded 
upon the shore of this strange world to find 
myself alone and companionless. My love, 
whom I had dreamed lost, had been re-embod- 
ied for my consolation. When at last, in an 
ecstasy of gratitude and tenderness, I folded 
the lovely girl in my arms, the two Ediths 
were blended in my thought, nor have they 
ever since been clearly distinguished. I was 
not long in finding that on Edith's part there 
was a corresponding confusion of identities. 
Never, surely, was there between freshly 
united lovers a stranger talk than ours that 
afternoon. She seemed more anxious to have 
me speak of Edith Bartlett than of herself; of 
how I had loved her, than how I loved herself, 
rewarding my fond words concerning another 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 427 

woman with tears and tender smiles and pres- 
sures of the hand. 

n You must not love me too much for my- 
self," she said. w I shall be very jealous for 
her. I shall not let you forget her. I am go- 
ing to tell you something which you may 
think strange. Do you not believe that spirits 
sometime come back to the world to fulfil 
some work that lay near their hearts? What 
if I were to tell you that I have sometimes 
thought that her spirit lives in me, — that 
Edith Harriett, not Edith Lecte, is my real 
name. I cannot know it ; of course none of 
us can know who we really are ; but I can feel 
it. Can you wonder that I have such a feel- 
ing, seeing how my life was affected by her 
and by you, even before you came. So you 
see you need not trouble to love me at all, if 
only you are true to her. I shall not be likely 
to be jealous." 

Dr. Lccte had gone out that afternoon, and 
I did not have an interview with him till later. 



428 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

He was not, apparently, wholly unprepared 
for the intelligence I conveyed, and shook mj 
hand heartily. 

"Under any ordinary circumstances, Mr. 
West, I should say that this step had been 
taken on rather short acquaintance ; but these 
are decidedly not ordinary circumstances. In 
fairness, perhaps I ought to tell you," he 
added, smilingly, that while I cheerfully con- 
sent to the proposed arrangement, you must 
not feel too much indebted to me, as I judge 
my consent is a mere formality. From the 
moment the secret of the locket was out, it had 
to be, I fancy. Why, bless me, if Edith had not 
been here to redeem her great grand-mother's 
pledge, I really apprehend that Mrs. Leete^ 
loyalty to me would have suffered a severe 
strain." 

That evening the garden was bathed in 
moonlight, and till midnight Edith and I wan 
dered to and fro there, trying to grow accus- 
tomed to our happiness. 



LOOKING BACKWARD, 429 

* What should I have done if you had not 
cared for me?" she exclaimed. "I was afraid 
you were not going to. What should I have 
done then, when I felt I was consecrated to 
you ! As soon as you came back to life, I was \ * 
as sure as if she had told me that I was to be 
to you what she could not be, but that could 
only be if you would let me. Oh, how I wanted 
to tell you that morning, when you felt so ter- 
ribly strange among us, who I was, but dared 
not open my lips about that, or let father 01 
mother — " 

"That must have been what you would not 
let your father tell me I n I exclaimed, refer- 
ring to the conversation I had overheard as I 
came out of my trance. 

" Of course it was," Edith laughed. " Did 
you only just guess that? Father being only 
a man, thought that it would make you feel 
among friends to tell you who we were. Ho 
did not think of me at all. But mother knew 
what I meant, and so I had my way. I could 



430 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

never have looked you in the face if 3'ou had 
known who I was. It would have been forc- 
ing myself on you quite too boldly, I am 
afraid you think I did that to-day, as it was. 1 
am sure I did not mean to, for I know girls 
were expected to hide their feelings in your 
day, and I was dreadfully afraid of shocking 
you. Ah me, how hard it must have been for 
them to have always had to conceal their love 
like a fault. Why did they think it such a 
shame to love any one till they had been given 
permission. It is so odd to think of waiting 
for permission to fall in love. Was it because 
men in those days were angry when girls 
loved them? That is not the way women 
would feel, I am sure, or men either, I think, 
now. 1 don't understand it at all. That will 
be one of the curious things about the women 
of those days that you will have to explain to 
me. I don't believe Edith Bartlett was so fool- 
ish as the others." 
After sundry ineffectual attempts at parting, 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 43 1 

she finally insisted that we must say goodnight. 
I was about to imprint upon her lips the posi- 
tively last kiss, when she said with an inde- 
scribable archness : 

"One thing troubles me. Are you sure 
that you quite forgive Edith Bartlett for marry- 
ing any one else? The books that have come 
down to us make out lovers of your time more 
jealous than fond, and that is what makes me 
ask. It would be a great relief to me if 1 
could feel sure that you were not in the least 
jealous of my great grand-father for marrying 
your sweetheart. May I tell my great grand' 
mother's picture when I go to my room thai 
you quite forgive her for proving false to 
you?" 

Will the reader believe it, this coquettish 
quip, whether the speaker herself had any 
idea of it or not, actually toucned and with 
the touching cured a preposterous ache of 
something like jealousy which I had been 
vaguely conscious of ever since Mrs. I«eete 



43* LOOKING BACKWARD. 

had told me of Edilh Bartlett's marriage. 
Even while I had been holding Edith Bart- 
left's great grand-daughter in my arms, I had 
not, till this moment, so illogical are some of 
our feelings, distinctly realized that but for 
that marriage I could not have done so. The 
absurdity of this frame of mind could only 
be equalled by the abruptness with which it 
dissolved as Edith's roguish query cleared the 
fog from my perceptions. I laughed as I 
kissed her. 

" You may assure her of my entire forgive- 
ness," I said, w although if it had been any 
man but your great-grandfather whom she 
married, it would have been a very different 
matter." 

On reaching my chamber that night I did 
not open the musical telephone that I might be 
lulled to sleep with soothing tunes, as had be- 
come my habit. For once my thoughts made 
better music than even twentieth century or- 
chestras discourse, and it held me enchanted 
till well toward morning, when I fell asleep. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 433 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

" TTS a little after the time you told me to 
•* wake you, sir. You did not come out 
of it as quick as common, sir." 

The voice was the voice of my man Sawyer. 
I started bolt upright in bed and stared around. 
I was in my underground chamber. The mel- 
low light of the lamp which always burned 
in the room when I occupied it, illumined the 
familiar walls and furnishings. By my bed- 
side, with the glass of sherry in his hand which 
Dr. Pillsbury prescribed on first rousing from 
a mesmeric sleep by way of awakening the 
torpid physical functions, stood Sawyer. 

" Better take this right off, sir," he said, as 1 
stared blankly at him. "You look kind of 
flustered like, sir, and you need it." 

I tossed off the liquor and began to realise 
what had happened to me. It was, of course, 



434 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

very plain. All that about the twentieth cen- 
tury had been a dream. I had but dreamed 
of that enlightened and care-free race of men 
and their ingeniously simple institutions, of 
the glorious new Boston with its domes and 
pinnacles, its gardens and fountains, and its 
universal reign of comfort. The amiable fam- 
ily which I had learned to know so well, my 
genial host and Mentor, Dr. Leete, hi$ wife, 
and their daughter, the second and more beau- 
teous Edith, my betrothed, these, too, had 
been but figments of a vision. 

For a considerable time I remained in 
the attitude in which this conviction had come 
over me, sitting up in bed gazing at vacancy, 
absorbed in recalling the scenes and incidents 
of my fantastic appearance. Sawyer, alarmed 
at my looks, was meanwhile anxiously inquir- 
ing what was the matter with me. Roused at 
length by his importunities to a recognition of 
my surroundings, I pulled myself together 
with an effort and assured the faithful fellow 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 435 

that I was all right. " I have had an extraor- 
dinary dream, that's all, Sawyer ," I said, "a 
most-cx-traor-dinary-drcam." 

I dressed in a mechanical way, feeling light- 
headed and oddly uncertain of myself, and sat 
down to the coflce and rolls which Sawyer was 
in the habit of providing for my refreshment 
before I left the house. The morning news- 
paper lay by my plate, I took it up, and my 
eye fell on the date May 31, 18S7. I had 
known, of course, from the moment I opened 
my eyes that my long and detailed experience 
in another century had been a dream, and yet 
it was startling to have it so conclusively 
demonstrated that the world was but a few 
hours older than when I had lain down to sleep. 

Glancing at the table of contents at the head 
of the paper which reviewed the news of the 
morning, I read the following summary : 

"Foriugn Affairs. — The impending war 
between France and Germany. The French 



43^ LOOKING BACKWARD. 

Chambers asked for new military credits to 
meet Germany's increase of her army. Prob- 
ability that all Europe will be involved in case 
of war. — Great suffering among the unem- 
ployed in London. They demand work. 
Monster demonstration to be made. The 
authorities uneasy. — Great strikes in Bel- 
gium. The government preparing to repress 
outbreaks. Shocking facts in regard to the 
employment; of girls in Belgian coal mines. — 
Wholesale evictions in Ireland. 

"Home Affairs. — The epidemic of fraud 
unchecked. Embezzlement of half a million 
in New York. — Misappropriation of a trust 
fund by executors. Orphans left penniless. — 
Clever system of thefts by a bank teller; 
$50,000 gone. — The oal barons decide to 
advance the price of coal and reduce produc- 
tion. — Speculators engineering a great wheat 
corner at Chicago. — A clique forcing up the 
price of coffee. — Enormous land-grabs of 
Western syndicates. — Revelations of shock* 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 43; 

ing corruption among Chicago officials. Sys- 
tematic bribery. — The trials of the Boodle 
aldermen to go on at New York. — Large 
failures of business houses. Fears of a busi- 
ness crisis. — A large grist of burglaries and 
larcenies. — A woman murdered in cold blood 
for her money at New Haven. — A house- 
holder shot by a burglar in this city last night. 
— A man shoots himself in Worcester because 
he could not get work. A large family left 
destitute. — An aged couple in New Jersey 
commit suicide rather than go to the poor- 
house. — Pitiable destitution among the women 
wage-workers in the great cities. — Startling 
growth of illiteracy in Massachusetts. — More 
insane asylums wanted. — Decoration Day 
addresses. Professor Hrown's oration on the 
moral grandeur of nineteenth century civili- 
sation." 

It was indeed the nineteenth cetftury to 
which I had awaked ; there could be no kind 



438 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

of doubt about that." Its complete microcosm 
this summary of the day's news had presented, 
even to that last unmistakable touch of fatuous 
self-complacency. Coming after such a damn- 
ing indictment of the age as that one day's 
chronicle of world-wide bloodshed, greed and 
tyranny, it was a bit of cynicism worthy of Me- 
phistopheles, and yet of all whose eyes it had 
met this morning I was, perhaps, the only one 
who perceived the cynicism, and but yesterday 
I should have perceived it no more than the 
others. That strange dream it was which had 
made all the difference. For I know not how 
long I forgot my surroundings after this, and 
was again in fancy moving in that vivid dream- 
world, in that glorious city, with its homes of 
simple comfort and its gorgeous public pal- 
aces. Around me were again faces unmarrcd 
by arrogance or servility, by envy or greed, 
by anxious care or feverish ambition, and 
stately forms of men and women who had 
never known fear of a fellow man or depended 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 439 

on his favor, but always, in the words of that 
sermon which still rang in my ears, had 
" stood up straight before God." 

With a profound sigh and a sense of irrepara- 
ble loss, not the less poignant that it was a loss 
of what had never really been, I roused at last 
from my revcry, and soon after left the house. 

A dozen times between my door and Wash- 
ington street I had to stop and pull myself to- 
gether, such power had been in that vision of 
the Boston of the future to make the real 
Boston strange. The squalor and malodoi- 
ousness of the town struck me, from the mo- 
ment I stood upon the street, as facts I had 
never before observed. But yesterday, more- 
over, it had seemed quite a matter of course that 
some of my fellow citizens should wear silks, 
and others rags, that some should look well 
fed, and others hungry. Now on the contrary 
the glaring disparities in the dress and condi- 
tion of the men and women who brushed 
each other on the sidewalks shocked me at 



44° LOOKING BACKWARD. 

every step, and yet more the entire indifference 
which the prosperous showed to the plight of 
the unfortunate. Were these human beings, 
who could behold the wretchedness of theii 
fellows without so much as a change of coun- 
tenance? And yet, all the while, 1 knew well 
that it was I who had changed, and not my 
contemporaries. I had dreamed of a city 
whose people fared all alike as children of one 
family and were one another's keepers in all 

things. 

Another feature of the real Boston which 
assumed the extraordinary effect of strange- 
ness that marks familiar things seen in a 
new light, was the prevalence of advertis- 
ing. There had been no personal advertis- 
ing in the Boston of the twentieth century, 
because there was no need of any, but here 
the walls of the buildings, the windows, the 
broadsides of the newspapers in every hand, 
the very pavements, everything in fact in 
tight, save the sky, were covered with the 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 441 

appeals of individuals who sought, under 
innumerable pretexts, to attract the contribu- 
tions of others to their support. However the 
wording might vary, the tenor of all these ap- 
peals was the same : 

"Help John Jones. Never mind the rest. 
They arc frauds. I, John Jones, am the right 
one. Buy of me. Employ me. Visit me. 
Hear me, John Jones. Look at me. Make 
no mistake, John Jones is the man and nobody 
else. Let the rest starve, but for God's sake 
remember John Jones 1 n 

Whether the pathos, or the moral repulsive- 
ness of the spectacle, most impressed me, so 
suddenly become a stranger in my own city, I 
know not. Wretched men, I was moved to 
cry, who, because they will not learn to be 
helpers of one another, are doomed to be beg- 
gars of one another from the least to the 
greatest ! This horrible babel of shameless 
self-assertion and mutual depreciation, this 
stunning clamor of conflicting boasts, appeals, 



44* LOOKING BACKWARD. 

and adjurations, this stupendous system of 
brazen beggary, what was it all but the neces- 
sity of a society in which the opportunity to 
serve the world according to his gifts, instead 
of being secured to every man as the first 
object of social organization, had to be fought 
for! 

I reached Washington street at the busiest 
point, and there I stood and laughed aloud, to 
the scandal of the passers by. For my life I 
could not have helped it, with such a mad 
humor was I moved at sight of the intermina- 
ble rows of stores on either side, up and down 
the street so far as I could see, scores of them, 
to make the spectacle more utterly preposter- 
ous, within a stone's throw devoted to selling the 
tame sort of goods. Stores ! stores ! stores ! 
miles of stores ! ten thousand stores to distrib- 
ute the goods needed by this one city, which in 
my dream had been supplied with all things 
from a single warehouse, as they were ordered 
through one great store in every quarter where 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 443 

the buyer, without waste of time or labor, 
found under one roof the world's assortment in 
whatever lhie he desired. There the labor of 
distribution had been so slight as to add but a 
scarcely perceptible fraction to the cost of 
commodities to the user. The cost of produc- 
tion was virtually all he paid. But here the 
mere distribution of the goods, their handling 
alone, added a fourth, a third, a half and more, 
to the cost. All these ten thousand plants 
must be paid for, their rent, their stafls of 
superintendence, their platoons of salesmen, 
their ten thousand sets of accountants, jobbers, 
and business dependents, with all they spent 
in advertising themselves and fighting one 
another, and the consumers must do the pay- 
ing. What a famous process for beggaring a 
.irtion ! 

Were these serious men 1 saw about me, or 
iJiildrcn, who did their business on such a 
plan? Could they be reasoning beings who 
did not sec the folly which, when the pro- 



444 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

duct is made and ready for use, wastes so 
much of it in getting it to the user? If peo- 
ple eat with a spoon that leaks half its con- 
tents between bowl and lip, are they not 
likely to go hungry? 

I had passed through Washington street 
thousands of times before and viewed the 
ways of those who sold merchandise, but my 
curiosity concerning them was as if I had 
never gone by their way before. I took 
wondering note of the show windows of the 
stores, filled with goods arranged with a 
wealth of pains and artistic device to attract 
the eye. I saw the throngs of ladies looking 
in, and the proprietors eagerly watching the 
effect of the bait. I went within and noted 
the hawk-eyed floor-walker watching for busi- 
ness, overlooking the clerks, keeping them 
up to their task of inducing the customers to 
buy, buy, buy for money if they had it, for 
credit if they had it not, to buy what they 
wanted not, more than they wanted, what they 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 445 

could not afford. At times I momentarily 
lost the clew and was confused by the sight. 
Why this effort to induce people to buy? 
Surely that had nothing to do with the legiti- 
mate business of distributing products to those 
who needed them. Surely it was the sheer- 
est waste to force upon people what they did 
not want, but what might be useful to another. 
The nation was so much the poorer for every 
such achievement. What were these clerks 
thinking of? Then I would remember that 
they were not acting as distributors like those 
in the store I had visited in the dream Boston. 
They were not serving the public interest, but 
their immediate personal interest, and it was 
nothing to them what the ultimate effect of 
their course on the general prosperity might 
be, if but they increased their own hoard, for 
these goods were their own and the more they 
lold and the more they got for them, the 
greater their gain. The more wasteful the 
people were, the more articles they did not 



446 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

want which they could be induced to buy, the 
better for these sellers. To encourage prodi- 
gality was the express aim of the ten thousand 
stores of Boston. 

Nor were these storekeepers and clerks a 
whit worse men than any others in Boston. 
They must earn a living and support their 
families, and how were they to find a trade to 
do it by which did not necessitate placing 
their individual interests before those of others 
and that of all ? They could not be asked to 
starve while they waited for an order of things 
such as I had seen in my dream, in which the 
interest of each and that of all were, identical. 
But, God in heaven ! what wonder, under such 
a system as this about me, what wonder that 
the city was so shabby, and the people so 
meanly dressed, and so many of them ragged 
and hungry ! 

Some time after this it was that I drifted 
over into South Boston and found myself 
among the manufacturing establishments. I 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 44-, 

had been in this quarter, of the city a hundred 
times before just as I had been on Washington 
street, but here, as well as there, I now first 
perceived the true significance of what I wit- 
nessed. Formerly I had taken pride in the 
fact that, by actual count, Boston had some four 
thousand independent manufacturing estab- ,1 

lishments, but in this very multiplicity and U, *•••*" 
independence I recognized now the secret of ( % ^[J!\> 
the insignificant total product of their indus- f ^^isT 



v~" 



try. I 

If Washington street had been like a lane 
in Bedlam, this was a spectacle as much more 
melancholy as production is a more vital func- 
tion than distribution. For not only were 
these four thousand establishments not work- 
ing in concert, and for that reason alone oper- 
ating at prodigious disadvantage, but, as if this 
did not involve a sufficiently disastrous loss of 
power, they were using their utmost skill to ,/ m 
frustrate one another's efTorts, praying by 
night and working by day for the destruction 
of one another's enterprises. 



448 LOOKING BACKWARD, 

The roar and rattle of wheels and hammers 
resounding from every side was not the hum of 
a peaceful industry, but the clangor of swords 
wielded by foemen. These mills and shops 
were so many forts, each under its own flag, its 
guns trained on the mills and shops about 
it, and its sappers busy below, undermining 
them. 

Within each one of these forts the strictest 
organization of industry was insisted on ; the 
separate gangs worked under a single central 
authority. No interference and no duplicating 
of work were permitted. Each had his allotted 
task, and none were idle. By what hiatus in 
the logical faculty, by what lost link of reason- 
ing account, then, for the failure to recognize 
the necessity of applying the same principle 
to the organization of the national industries as 
a whole, to see that if lack of organization 
could impair the efficiency of a shop, it must 
have effects as much more disastrous in disa- 
\ bling the industries of the nation at large as 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 449 

the latter are vaster in volume and more com- 
plex in the relationship of their parts. 

People would be prompt enough to ridicule 
an army in which there were neither compa- 
nies, battalions, regiments, brigades, divisions, 
or army corps, — no unit of organization, in 
fact, larger than the corporal's squad, with no 
officer higher than a corporal, and all the cor- 
porals equal in authority. And yet just such 
an army were the manufacturing industries of 
nineteentli century Boston, an army of four 
thousand independent squads led by four thou- 
sand independent corporals, each with a sep- 
arate plan of campaign. 

Knots of idle men '"ere to be seen here and 
there on every aide, some idle because they 
could And no work at any price, others be- 
cause they could not get what they thought a 
fair price. 

I accosted some of the latter and they told 
me their grievances. It was very little com- 
fort I could give them. * I am sorry for you," 



450 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

I said. "You get little enough, certainly, and 
yet the wonder to me is, not that industries 
conducted as these are do not pay you living 
wages, but that they are able to pay ycu any 
wages at all." 

Making my way back again after this to the 
peninsular city, toward three o'clock I stood 
on State street, staring as if I had never seen 
them before, at the banks and brokers' offices, 
and other financial institutions, of which there 
had been in the State street of my vision no 
vestige. Business men, confidential clerks, 
and errand boys, were thronging in and out 
of the banks, for it wanted but a few minutes 
of the closing hour. Opposite me was the 
bank where I did business, and presently I 
crossed the street, and, going in with the 
crowd, stood in a recess of the wall looking 
on at the army of clerks handling money, and 
the cues of depositors at the tellers' windows. 
An old gentleman whom I knew, a director 
of the bank, passing me and observing my 
contemplative attitude, stopped a moment. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 451 

n Interesting sight, isn't it, Mr. West," he 
said. "Wonderful piece of mechanism ; I find 
it so, myself. I like sometimes to stand and 
look on at it just as you arc doing. It's a 

• 

poem, sir, a poem, that's what I call it. Did 
you ever think, Mr. West, that the bank is the 
heart of the business system? From it and to 
it, in endless flux and reflux, the life blood 
goes. It is flowing in now. It will flow out 
again in the morning ; " and pleased with his 
little conceit, the old man passed on smiling. 

Yesterday I should have considered the 
simile apt enough, but since then I had visited 
a world incomparably more affluent than this, 
in which money was unknown and without 
conceivable use. I had learned that it had a 
use in the world around me only because the 
work of producing the nation's livelihood, in 
stead of being regarded as the most strictly 
public and common of all concerns, and as 
such conducted by the nation, was abandoned 
to the hap-hazard efforts of individuals. This 



45* LOOKING BACKWARD. 

original mistake necessitated endless exchanges 
to bring about any sort of general distribution 
of products. These exchanges money effected 
— how equitably, might be seen in a walk 
from the tenement house districts to the Back 
Bay — at the cost of an army of men taken 
from productive labor to manage it, with con- 
stant ruinous break downs of its machinery, 
and a generally debauching influence on man- 
kind which had justified its description, from 
ancient time, as the " root of all evil." 

Alas for the poor old bank director with his 

poem ! He had mistaken the throbbing of an 

:\*** abscess for the beating of the heart. What he 

a called w a wonderful piece of mechanism," was 

an imperfect device to remedy an unnecessary 



1 



defect, the clumsy crutch of a self-made crip- 
ple. 

After the banks had closed I wandered aim- 
lessly about the business quarter for an hour 
or two, and later sat a while on one of the 
benches of the Common, finding an interest 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 453 

merely in watching the throngs that passed, 
such as one has in studying the populace of 
a foreign city, so strange since yesterday had 
my fellow citizens and their ways become to me. 
For thirty years I had lived among them, and 
yet I seemed to have never noted before how 
drawn and anxious were their faces, of the rich 
as of the poor, the refined, acute faces of the 
educated as well as the dull masks of the ig- 
norant. And well it might be so, for I saw 
now, as never before I had seen so plainly, that 
each as he walked constantly turned to catch 
the whispers of a spectre at his ear, the spectre 
of Uncertainty. H Do your work never so well,* 
the spectre was whispering, — w rise early and 
toil till late, rob cunningly or serve faithfully, 
jrou shall never know security. Rich you 
may be now and still come to poverty at last 
Leave never so much wealth to your children, 
you cannot buy the assurance that your son 
may not be the servant of your servant, or thai 
your daughter will not have to sell herself for 
bread. 



454 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

A man passing by thrust an advertising card 
in my hand, which set forth the merits of some 
new scheme of life insurance. The incident 
reminded me of the only device, pathetic in its 
admission of the universal need it so poorly 
supplied, which offered these tired and hunted 
men and women even a partial protection from 
uncertainty. By this means, those already 
well-to-do, I remembered, might purchase a 
precarious confidence that after their death 
their loved ones would not, for a while at least, 
be trampled under the feet of men. But this 
was all, and this was only for those who could 
pay well for it. What idea was possible to these 
wretched dwellers in the land of Ishmael, 
where every man's hand was against each and 
the hand of each against every other, of true 
life insurance as I had seen it among the peo- 
ple of that dream land, each of whom, by vir- 
tue merely of his membership in the national 
family, was guaranteed against need of any 
sort, by a policy underwritten by one hundred 
million fellow countrymen. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 455 

Some time after this it was that I recall a 
glimpse of myself standing on the steps of a 
building on Tremont street, looking at a mili- 
tary parade. A regiment was passing. It 
was the first sight in that dreary day which 
had inspired me with any other emotions than 
wondering pity and amazement. Here at last 
were order and reason, an exhibition of what 
intelligent co-operation can accomplish. The 
people who stood looking on with kindling 
faces, — could it be that the sight had for them 
no more than a spectacular interest? Could 
they fail to see that it was their perfect concert 
of action, their organization under one control, 
which made these men the tremendous engine 
they were, able to vanquish a mob ten timet 
as numerous? Seeing this so plainly, could 
they fail to compare the scientific manner 
in which the nation went to war with the 
unscientific manner in which it went to work? 
Would they not query since what time the 
killing of men had been a task so much more 



y 



456 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

important than feeding and clothing them, that 
a trained army should be deemed alone ade- 
quate to the former, while the latter was left to 
a mob? 

It was now toward nightfall, and the street 
were thronged with the workers from the 
stores, the shops, and mills. Carried along 
with the stronger part of the current, I found 
myself, as it began to grow dark, in the midst 
of a scene of squalor and human degradation 
such as only the South Cove tenement district 
could present. I had seen the mad wasting 
of human labor'; here I saw in direst shape 
the want that waste had bred. 

From the black doorways and windows of 
the rookeries on every side came gusts of fetid 
air. The streets and alleys reeked with the 
effluvia of a slave ship's between-decks. As I 
passed I had glimpses within of pale babies 
gasping out their lives amid sultry stenches, 
of hopeless faced women deformed by hard- 
ship, retaining of womanhood no trait save 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 457 

weakness, while from the windows leered girls 
with brows of brass. Like the starving bands 
of mongrel curs that infest the streets of Mos- 
lem towns, swarms of half clad brutalized chil- 
dren filled the air with shrieks and curses as 
they fought and tumbled among the garbage 
that littered the court yards. 

There was nothing in all this that was new 
to me. Often had I passed through this part 
of the city and witnessed its sights with feel- 
ings of disgust mingled with a certain philo- 
sophical wonder at the extremities mortals will 
endure and still cling to life. But not alone 
as regarded the economical follies of this age, 
but equally as touched its moral abominations, 
scales had fallen from my eyes since that 
vision of another century. No more did I 
look upon the woeful dwellers in this inferno 
with a callous curiosity as creatures scarcely 
human. I saw in them my brothers, and sif- 
ters, my parents, my children, flesh of my 
flesh, blood of my blood. The festering maas 



458 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

of human wretchedness about me offended 
not now my senses merely, but pierced my 
heart like a knife, so that I could not repress 
sighs and groans. I not only saw but felt in 
my body all that I saw. 

Presently, too, as I observed the wretched 
beings about me more closely, I perceived that 
they were all quite dead. Their bodies were 
so many living sepulchres. On each brutal 
brow was plainly written the hicjacct of a soul 
dead within. 

As I looked, horror struck, from one death's 
head to another, I was affected by a singular 
hallucination. Like a wavering translucent 
spirit face superimposed upon each of these 
brutish masks, I saw the ideal, the possible face 
that would have been the actual if mind and 
soul had lived. It was not till I was aware of 
these ghostly faces and of the reproach that 
could not be gainsaid which was in their eyes, 
that the full piteousness of the ruin that had 
been wrought, was revealed to me. I was 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 459 

moved with contrition as with a strong agony, 
for I had been one of those who had endured 
that these things should be. I had been one 
of those who, well knowing that they were, 
had not desired to hear or be compelled to 
think much of them, but had gone on as if 
they were not, seeking my own pleasure and 
profit. Therefore now I found upon my gar- 
ments the blood of this great multitude of 
strangled souls of my brothers. The voice of 
their blood cried out against me from the 
ground. Every stone of the reeking pave 
ments, every brick of the pestilential rook- 
eries found a tongue and called after me as I 
fled: What hast thou done with thy brother 
Abel?' 

I have no clear recollection of anything 
after this till I found myself standing on the 
carved stone steps of the magnificent home 
of my betrothed in Commonwealth avenue. 
Amid the tumult of my thoughts that day, I 
had scarcely once thought of her, but now 



460 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

obeying some unconscious impulse my feet 
had found the familiar way to her door. I 
was told that the family were at dinner, but 
word was sent out that I should join them at 
table. Besides the family, I found several 
guests present, all known to me. The table 
glittered with plate and costly china. The 
ladies were sumptuously dressed and wore 
the jewels of queens. The scene was one of 
costly elegance and lavish luxury. The com- 
pany was in excellent spirits, and there was 
plentiful laughter and a running fire of jests. 

To me it was as if, in wandering through 
the place of doom, my blood turned to tears 
by its sights, and my spirit attuned to sorrow, 
pity and despair, I had happened in some 
glade upon a merry party of roisterers. I 
sat in silence until Edith began to rally me 
upon my sombre looks. What ailed me? 
The others presently joined in the playful as- 
sault and I became a target for quips and jests. 
Where had I been, and what had I seen to 
make such a dull fellow of me? 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 46 1 

"I have been in Golgotha," at last I an- 
swered. " I have seen humanity hanging on a 
cross. Do none of you know what sights the 
sun and stars look down on in this city, that you 
can think and talk of anything else? Do you 
not know that close to your doors a great multi- 
tude of men and women, flesh of your flesh, 
live lives that are one agony from birth to 
death ? Listen ! their dwellings are so near 
that if you hush your laughter you will hear 
their grievous voices, the piteous crying of the 
little ones that suckle poverty, the hoarse curses 
of men sodden in misery, turned half way back 
to brutes, the chaffering of an army of women 
selling themselves for bread. With what have 
you stopped your ears that you do not hear 
these doleful sounds? For me I can hear 
nothing else." 

Silence followed my words. A passion of 
pity had shaken me as I spoke, but when I 
looked around upon the company, I saw that, 
far from being stirred as I was, their faces cx« 



462 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

pressed a cold and hard astonishment, min- 
gled in Edith's with extreme mortification, 
in her father's with anger. . The ladies were 
exchanging scandalized looks, while one of 
the gentlemen had put up his eye-glass and 
was studying me with an air of scientific curi- 
osity. When I saw that things which were 
to me so intolerable moved them not at all, 
that words that melted my heart to speak had 
only offended them with the speaker, I was at 
first stunned and then overcome with a des- 
perate sickness and faintness at the heart. 
What hope was there for the wretched, for the 
world, if thoughtful men and tender women 
were not moved by things like these I Then 
I bethought myself that it must be because I 
had not spoken aright. No doubt I had put 
the case badly. They were angry because 
they thought I was beratinjg them, when God 
knew I was merely thinking of the horror of 
the fact without any attempt to assign the re- 
sponsibility for it. 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 463 

I restrained my passion, and tried to speak 
calmly and logically that 1 might correct this 
impression. I told them that 1 had not meant 
to accuse them, as if they, or the rich in gen- 
eral, were responsible for the misery of the 
world. True indeed it was that the superflu- 
ity which they wasted would, otherwise be- 
stowed, relieve much bitter suffering. These 
costly viands, these rich wines, these gorgeous 
fabrics and glistening jewels represented the 
ransom of many lives. They were verily not 
without the guiltiness of those who waste in 9 
land stricken with famine. Nevertheless, all 
the waste of all the rich, were it saved, would 
go but a little way to cure the poverty of the 
world. There was so little to divide that even 
if the rich went share and share with the poor, 
there would be but a common fare of crusts* 
albeit made very sweet then by brotherly love. 

The folly of men, not their hard-heartedness, 



was the g reat cause of the world's po verty. Il 
was not the crime of man, nor of any class of 



464 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

men, that made the race so miserable, but a hid- 
eous, ghastly mistake, a colossal world-darken- 
ing blunder. And then I showed them how four 
fifths of the labor of men was utterly wasted 
by the mutual warfare, tbe lack of organiza- 
tion and concert among the workers. Seeking 
to make the matter very plain, I instanced the 
case of arid lands where the soil yielded the 
means of life only by careful use of the water 
courses for irrigation. I showed how in such 
countries it was counted the most important 
function of the government to see that the 
water was not wasted by the selfishness or ig- 
norance of individuals, since otherwise there 
would be famine. To this end its use was 
strictly regulated and systematized, and indi- 
viduals of their mere caprice were not permitted 
to dam it or divert it, or in any way to tamper 
with it. 

The labor of men, I explained, was the fer- 
tilizing stream which alone rendered earth hab- 
itable. It was but a scanty stream at best, and 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 465 

its use required to be regulated by a system 
which expended every drop to the best advan- 
tage, if the world were to be supported in 
abundance. But how far from any system was 
the actual practice ! Every man wasted the 
precious fluid as he wished, animated only by 
the equal motives of saving his own crop and 
spoiling his neighbor's, that his might sell the 
better. What with greed and what with spite 
some fields were flooded while others were 
parched and half the water ran wholly to 
waste. In such a land, though a few by 
strength or cunning might win the means of 
luxury, the lot of the great mass must be pov- 
erty , and of the weak and ignorant bitter want 
and perennial famine. 

Let but the famine-stricken nation assume 
the function it had neglected and regulate for 
the common good the course of th *. life-giving 
stream, and the earth would bloom like one 
garden, and none of its children lack any 
good thing. I described the physical felicity, 



466 LOOKING BACKWARD, 

mental enlightenment, and moral elevation 
which would then attend the lives of all men. 
With fervency I spoke of that new world 
blessed with plenty, purified by justice and 
sweetened by brotherly kindness, the world of 
which I had indeed but dreamed, but which 
might so easily be made real. 

But when I had expected now surely the 
faces around me to light up with emotions akin 
to mine, they grew ever more dark, angry, and 
scornful. Instead of enthusiasm, the ladies 
showed only aversion and dread, while the 
men interrupted me with shouts of reprobation 
and contempt. " Madman 1" "Pestilent fel- 
low 1" w Fanatic 1" " Enemy of society ! " were 
some of their cries, and the one who had be- 
fore taken his eye-glass to me exclaimed, " He 
says we are to have no more poor. Ha ! Ha 1 M 

" Put the fellow out I " exclaimed the father 
of my betrothed, and at the signal the men 
sprang from their chairs and advanced upon 
me. 




LOOKING BACKWARD. 467 

It seemed to me that my heart would bunt 
with the anguish of finding that what was to 
me so plain and so all-important, was to them 
meaningless, and that I was powerless to 
make it other. So hot had been my heart 
that I had thought to melt an iceberg with its 
glow, only to find at last the overmastering 
chill seizing my own vitals. It was not 
enmity that I felt toward them as they thronged 
me, but pity only, for them and for the world. 

Though despairing, I could not give over. 
Still I strove with them. Tears poured from 
my eyes. In my vehemence I became inartic- 
ulate. I panted, I sobbed, I groaned, and im- 
mediately afterward found myself sitting up- 
right in bed in my room in Dr. Leete's house, 
and the morning sun shining through the open 
window into my eyes. I was gasping. The 
tears were streaming down my face, and I 
quivered in every nerve. 

As with an escaped convict who dreams that 
he has been re-captured and brought back to 



k 



468 LOOKING BACKWARD. 

his dark and reeking dungeon, and opens hia 
eyes to see the heaven's vault spread above 
him, so it was with me, asJ^reglizfijHhat my 
re turn t o the nineteenth centur y had been the 
dream, and my presence in th e twentieth was 



the reality . 

The cruel sights which I had witnessed 
in my vision, and could so well confirm from 
the experience of my former life, though they 
had, alas ! once been, and must in the retro- 
spect to the end of time move the compassion- 
ate to tears, were, God be thanked, forever 
gone by. Long ago oppressor and oppressed, 
prophet and scorner, had been dust. For gen- 
erations rich and poor had been forgotten 
words. * 

But in that moment, while yet I mused with 
unspeakable thankfulness upon the greatness 
of the world's salvation, and my privilege in 
beholding it, there suddenly pierced me like « 
knife a pang of shame, remorse, and wonder 
ing self-reproach, that bowed my head upon 



LOOKING BACKWARD. 469 

my breast and made me wish the grave had 
hid me with my fellows from the sun. For 
I had been a man of that former time. What 
had I done to help on the deliverance whereat 
I now presumed to rejoice? I who had lived 
in those cruel, insensate days, what had I done 
to bring them to an end? I had been every 
whit as indifferent to the wretchedness of my 
brothers, as cynically incredulous of better 
* things, as besotted a worshipper of Chaos and 
Old Night, as any of my fellows. So far as 
my personal influence went, it had been ex- 
erted rather to hinder than to help forward the 
enfranchisement of the race which was even 
then preparing. What right had I to hail a 
salvation which reproached me, to rejoice in a 
day whose dawning I had mocked? 

"Better for you, better for you," a voice 
within me rang, "had this evil dream been the 
reality, and this fair reality the dream ; better 
your part pleading for crucified humanity with 
a scoffing generation, than here, drinking of 
wells you digged not, and eating of trees 



47° LOOKING BACKWARD. 

whose husbandmen you stoned;" and my 
spirit answered, w Better, truly." 

When at length I raised my bowed head 
and looked forth from the window, Edith, 
fresh as the morning, had come into the gar- 
den and was gathering flowers. I hastened 
to descend to her. Kneeling before her, with 
my face in the dust, I confessed with tears how 
little was my worth to breathe the air of this 
golden century, and how infinitely less to wear 
upon my breast its consummate flower. For- 
tunate is he who, with a case so desperate as 
mine, finds a judge so merciful. 



; . -•'•'-'• 






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